MILAN — Francesco Tombolini is the new president of the Camera Italiana Buyer Moda, the country’s association of buyers representing 110 national fashion multibrand stores. Tombolini will succeed Mario dell’Oglio in the role effective Dec. 1.

Tombolini previously served as deputy chief operating officer at Yoox Net-a-porter. Before that, he was Emporio Armani’s sales senior vice president and Europe and Middle East wholesale vice president at Gucci. This is the first time a manager is appointed to the role at the Camera Italiana Buyer Moda instead of a member of the association.

“I have been working for companies for 33 years this year, so after the latest, incredible experience in Yoox Net-a-porter, I thought it was right to embark on a new adventure and what’s more new and disruptive than a brick-and-mortar store at the moment?” said Tombolini.

The newly elected president will be flanked by six deputies — all buyers — with operative roles: Beppe Angiolini of Sugar will oversee the communication and marketing strategies; Spinnaker’s Claudio Betti will manage services integration and training programs; Tessabit’s Andrea Molteni will be in charge of leading the digital transformation; Maurizio Coltorti of the Coltorti boutiques will manage the relationships among the associates; Tricot’s Giacomo Vannuccini will oversee retail strategies, while Sabina Zabberoni of Julian Fashion will be in charge of research and development activities.

Francesco Tombolini.

Francesco Tombolini.  Courtesy Photo

“We want to enhance our image and [promote] our values,” said Tombolini. “Overall, the association represents a 560,000-square-foot retail surface, 1,500 windows, 250 stores and estimated annually revenues of 2 billion euros, meaning that on average our associates sell items for over 6 million euros per day, so we’re not a minor force.”

Creating synergies both among associates and with the brands will be at the core of the new president’s strategy, which aims to “present a united front to be considered an additional asset to involve by other associations and institutions.”

Asked about the evolving retail scenario in Italy, Tombolini believes brick-and-mortar retailers won’t succumb to the increasing appeal of online players.

“The majority of our associates have more than 50 years of history, so they have witnessed many crises. This is a generational one: Baby Boomers are almost out and we’re already in the post-Millennials era… An old world is dying but I don’t think the new one will stand only on one, digital leg. In a time where everything is more [fleeting] and even the collections are becoming hit-and-run capsules, we still need the concreteness of brick-and-mortar environments,” he said.

“We want to restart from the basics, such as the service, hospitality and the assortment, but updating our approach, as many of our stores already have done since 25 percent of our associates’ sales are currently generated online,” Tombolini concluded.

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