Backstage at Moncler Genius Collection RTW Fall 2018

MILAN — “We want to talk to everyone and everywhere, to all generations, with a new language and new concepts,” said Moncler chairman and chief executive officer Remo Ruffini during the brand’s capital markets day on Tuesday. “One house, different voices is not a claim but the essence of our strategy.”

A day after reporting a 27 percent jump in 2017 net profits to 249.7 million euros and a 15 percent gain in revenues, which reached 1.19 billion euros, Moncler touted its new Genius Building project, the flexibility that has allowed installing a new business model and the potential of its online channel, which all contribute to expectations to outperform the luxury industry in 2018. Kicking off Milan Fashion Week, Moncler on Feb. 20 unveiled eight collections under the Genius Building moniker, designed by the likes of Pierpaolo Piccioli, Simone Rocha and Craig Green, which will be dropped throughout the year at different times.

Ruffini ticked off Moncler’s flexibility, which has allowed to “reengineer our business at the speed of digital and become a community,” and its evolution, as Moncler is not only focused on the product but on engaging customers in new experiences. He said he no longer believes in the concept of seasons, and that travel has become an important shopping occasion. “We have a disruptive answer. Indi-visuals expressed through social and visual media. Uniqueness is the milestone of our strategy,” said Ruffini, also emphasizing creativity. “Like love, you must let it run free and wild,” he mused. He believes that new codes allow to reach new customers and create a Moncler community. “If you don’t speak their language, people will not listen,” Ruffini observed, adding that energy and passion are key to success and to creating loyalty to the brand.

Ruffini said Moncler was one of the first companies to forge collaborations with designers and fashion brands, naming Junya Watanabe,  Comme des Garçons and Nicolas Ghesquière. “Then we changed strategies and moved to fashion shows, which were not in our DNA, to reach a different client. One-and-a-half years ago, I felt the world was changing thanks to digital, and I had the idea of an editorial project to talk to clients and increase traffic. We just started, but I trust we can develop it, it feels like the right solution for our crowd, while never betraying scarcity or quality.” Throughout the meeting, it was reiterated that the project was not meant for large volumes and that it was more about quality than quantity.

Responding to an analyst, Ruffini said there were no M&A plans. “There is a lot to do and Moncler has strong potential, I don’t see an opportunity,” he said.

Roberto Eggs, chief operating and chief marketing officer, said the company will continue with Moncler’s main collection and that Genius Building is meant “to create desire and expectations, to create content and buzz, to please existing consumers and attract new ones.”

Eggs also highlighted Moncler’s flexibility and ability to react quickly “to young customers that are increasingly buying on impulse.” He said Genius Building was a digital project from Day One, marking the start of a new phase in 2018, which required changes in distribution, design, production and merchandising, with a dedicated, efficient and more flexible supply chain for timely deliveries. For example, he said the first collection to be rolled out will be the one designed by Piccioli, due out on July 2, with Matches. Noir, by Kei Ninomiya, will follow and be available at Dover Street Market. This has allowed Moncler to strike a deal with the retailer — a new distributor for the company — to have a permanent store for Genius Building. Craig Green’s collection will bow in August with Ssense, and Moncler 1952 and the Simone Rocha capsule will be launched in September, followed by Moncler Palm Angels in October. The collections will be available for three weeks to a month. These drops will be followed by a full takeover at Printemps of the Genius Building, for example, and partnerships with Isetan, Barneys with all of the windows, said Eggs, and Tsum, Macau Galaxy, Plaza 66 or Maxfield, among some. Moncler Grenoble will drop in November and a second fragmented delivery will take place in December.

Knitwear, the group’s fastest-growing category, is expected to post a double-digit gain in the 2018-20 period, as are the Grenoble and Moncler Lab brands. The company has hired dedicated designers for the soft accessories category, which has the highest growth potential, Eggs said.

The executive also said a goal was to increase Moncler’s share of digital and outdoor ads by 2020 to 70 percent of media spending and that the plan is to be fully omnichannel and operative by 2019, starting with Europe first, which now accounts for 60 percent of online sales. Moncler is also working to double online revenues in three years from the current 3 percent. Moncler is taking its online channel in-house in South Korea. Chief corporate and supply officer Luciano Santel said it was working transparently with partner Yoox Net-a-porter Group “to implement our technology. Our customer service is in progress to be in-sourced, we are doing tests to understand how to run the business in-house and YNAP is helping. We will see when the contract expires.” Eggs said Moncler “left the door open to internalizing. Client data is the first to go in-house.”

As for its retail channel, Moncler will open two new countries per year, such as Mexico by July 2018, Spain and Portugal in 2019, and Thailand and South Africa by 2020. The plan is to open 15 doors in 2018.

Santel said the mission was “to provide a reliable, lean, efficient and fast organization in line with our business model in five areas — supply chain, information technology, people, logistics and sustainability.” Santel introduced Francesca Bacci, who hails from Valentino and Prada before that, and who joined Moncler in December as its new operations and supply chain director.

“We are timing and planning our supply chain, moving from traditional and sequential to same-time activities, focusing on product industrialization along with product development,” said Bacci, trumpeting Moncler Clinique, which she called “the best production facility for outerwear,” based in Romania. A second building to expand the distribution center in Piacenza, Italy, is being erected and will be completed by May or June.

Responding to an analyst, Ruffini said he did not believe there are direct competitors in terms of design, but that there was the need “to be careful, starting with Prada, but we have strong power and technology in outerwear.”

Santel said the company expects to invest 30 million euros in information technology in the 2018-20 period, highlighting efforts to optimize clienteling, and the launch of a cybersecurity project six months ago.

The company will set up Mon Campus, a one-year academy for young talents, he added.

There are no plans to increase prices in order “to stay attractive for the young generations,” Santel said.

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