Bulgari

MILAN — Bulgari is pledging to support the fight against coronavirus with a donation to the research department of the Lazzaro Spallanzani Hospital in Rome, one of the first medical teams to isolate the DNA of the deadly disease.

The donation will allow the Spallanzani, which specializes in infectious diseases, to purchase a microscopic image acquisition system. This is a fundamental machine to advance the research that will lead to the prevention and treatment of the virus. The machine is valued at around 100,000 euros.

“The team of researchers can now work with the most technologically advanced tools, accelerating the achievement of the result and to benefit everyone on the planet who is potentially a victim of the virus, starting from China where it exploded first,” said Jean-Christophe Babin, chief executive officer of Bulgari, which is also based in Rome.

The isolation of the DNA of the coronavirus was achieved by Maria Rosaria Capobianchi, Francesca Colavita and Concetta Castilletti, among the first in Europe to succeed in this task.

“It’s a mission of responsible citizens and companies like Bulgari to give back to society,” said Babin on Thursday, in New York to present Bulgari’s new B.Zero1 designs. “We hope that even though it’s a minor contribution, if [we can] speed up the vaccine by one week, many people can be saved. I very much believe in collaborations between public and private companies.

“Part of our world is clients coming from China. If there is any chance to contribute and fix the issue, we do it without thinking twice,” continued Babin. “We met with the hospital staff to understand from them what they need immediately to do things quicker and we decided today to fund it. A few hundred thousand euros doesn’t look like much for a state hospital.”

The executive discussed the potential impact of the virus on business, in light of the relevance of China.

“Today as we speak, 20 of our 30 stores are closed, mostly because malls are closed there,” observed Babin. “We don’t have high street in China, 90 percent of our stores are in malls. The luxury business in China, except for e-commerce, is at a standstill — most of the public locations like museums are closed. The first step was to reduce working hours because traffic was down.…Even Macau today announced its casinos would be closed for two weeks, which of course means the malls there are closed. There is zero activity in China, the bulk of sales are from e-commerce.”

Babin also said China is Bulgari’s “number-one e-commerce market.” The Italian jeweler has been pushing its own e-commerce as well as selling through WeChat. “It does not offset what we are losing through brick-and-mortar, but we manage during these tough days to sell to Chinese,” concluded Babin.

Other businesses donating for the cause include Versace, which a day earlier said it planned to donate 1 million renminbi, or $143,400, to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation to alleviate the shortage of medical supplies; beauty companies L’Oréal; the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. and Shiseido Co. Ltd., as well as jewelry brand Swarovski. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has pledged 16 million renminbi, or $2.3 million, to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation and Kering also made a 7.5 million renminbi, or $1.08 million, donation on behalf of its 13 fashion and luxury brands to the Hubei Red Cross Foundation. Alibaba set up a 1 billion renminbi, or $144 million, fund, while Tencent, the owner of WeChat, has donated 300 million renminbi, or $43.25 million.

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