MILAN — Luxury Living Group has a new chief executive officer, Andrea Gentilini, tasked with further expanding the Italian furniture and interiors design company’s business globally.
The appointment follows the strategic strengthening of the company in the wake of the acquisition by Lifestyle Design (Poltrona Frau Group) together with Haworth Inc. last July.
Dario Rinero, ceo of Lifestyle Design, touted Gentilini’s “professional profile and vision, which converge with the objectives we have set for Luxury Living Group, a company we believe is highly strategic and that shows ample growth margins and international development.”
Gentilini previously held managerial roles at storied Italian furniture firm Visionnaire, Bialetti and at leading designer of gym equipment and fitness solutions Technogym.
Luxury Living Group recently hired Gabriele Rossetti as sales director and Daniele Pelliccioni as operations director.
Gentilini, who succeeds Renato Preti, told WWD that the group already has a solid international presence, as exports account for 95 percent of sales. While he plans to expand the markets with the best growth potential, at the same time he will continue to consolidate key regions, such as Asia, in particular China; the U.S., and the Middle East, strengthening product strategies and expanding the group’s pool of licenses. In addition to its own brand Luxury Living, the group produces furniture and home collections for Fendi, Bentley, Trussardi and Bugatti.
China is “a fundamental” market, said Gentilini, representing more than 50 percent of the business. “The region was confirmed as a point of reference for us over these past months,” he said. Present in the region since the late Eighties, the company has a branch in Shanghai and Gentilini said the group is planning to further penetrate the market, with additional dedicated employees and new stores.
Luxury Living leverages “the brands’ notoriety and recognition in China,” he said, underscoring that the Chinese customer is “very much evolving, becoming increasingly sophisticated, and growing not only in terms of volumes, but also culturally, and is sharply selective. It’s not only about wealth and spending power, there is a certain sensibility that will allow the Chinese cluster to grow much more,” contended Gentilini, saying the group targets a very high-profile customer who invests in properties.
Upon his arrival, Gentilini set a five-year plan, aimed at growth but “in a balanced way, investing in product innovation, new commercial figures and more managers in sales and operations, new stores and branches around the world, and strengthening our strategies and the organization.”
Sales in 2019 amounted to 90 million euros, and Gentilini expects 2020 to see revenues in line with last year.
While building an e-commerce platform is a priority for 2021, Luxury Living is also investing in its retail network.
In mid-March it will open a store in Paris and it is working on units in London, San Francisco and Shanghai, although difficulties in traveling have slowed down the execution of the latter three, said Gentilini, who was actually planning a trip to the U.S. the week following the interview. There are already company stores in Miami, Los Angeles and New York, in addition to two units in Milan.
Globally, there are also 85 wholesale accounts “with which we have a continuous, long-standing relationship,” noted Gentilini.
According to the most recent Bain & Co. and Altagamma Worldwide Luxury Market Monitor, the high-quality design furniture and homeware sector showed resilience in 2020, “sustained by the growing role of home as personal cocoon” and is seen declining at a slower pace than other sectors hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The decrease is pegged at about 10 to 12 percent by the end of the year, to 38 billion euros.
Gentilini concurred with the results of the study. “It’s a sector that has suffered less than others and I am positive about 2021 and the future,” he said. “The domestic context has been partially modified. People are rediscovering the home as their life has become less frantic, they are revisiting their priorities with a new sensibility and they want to create the conditions to live in a space that will enrich their spirit, living surrounded by beautiful things, so this is not only about pure design. I believe all this will help us,” he said.
Salone del Mobile organizers said last month they would postpone the international furniture and interior design trade show to Sept. 5 to 10, from April. Gentilini said Luxury Living will find a way to show the new collections in April “maybe during Design Week or through a digital platform,” while also participating at the Salone in September.
While the Luxury Living brand will continue to be a priority and “a strategic component, the expression of 30 years of work,” the group plans to extend its pool of licenses. “We are now evaluating two brands that are very well-known around the world,” he said, without disclosing the names. “We’ve always received requests from brands but at this moment, we’ve seen a surge, home and furniture are seen as even more important, and there is brisk activity in this sector,” said Gentilini. He underscored the need for the company to remain selective and to partner with brands that are in tune with Luxury Living’s “craftsmanship, made in Italy principles and standards of innovation. This is what inspires us, as much as interpreting the codes and the styles of the brands.”
He took the opportunity to praise the “extraordinary artisans who translate a brand’s essence into lifestyle, furniture and design pieces,” assembled through the years by the late founder Alberto Vignatelli. “He built a company with an enormous wealth of skills and incredible know-how.”