Global Family-Owned Firm Readies New Brands, Capabilities

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De Rigo REM executives discuss the resources they are bringing to the U.S. market.(L to R) De Rigo REM U.S. president, Steve Horowitz; De Rigo Group CEO, Michele Aracri; De Rigo Group’s executive chairman, Massimo De Rigo; and De Rigo REM’s CEO, Mike Hundert.
NEW YORK – It’s been a very busy 10 months:

The relocation and absorption of a distribution facility from Florida to California. The determination of an expanded brand portfolio for a diverse mix of customers in the U.S. market, and how those brands would be sequenced to come into the market here. The development of a second sales force. Putting together plans for a careful transition to new systems, IT support and sophisticated business tools for its customers.

These activities and more are just part of what’s kept the executive, management and support teams very active at the company now known as De Rigo REM.

June 2017 will mark one year since the coming together of two leading eyewear players, via the acquisition of Los Angeles-based REM Eyewear, one of the largest eyewear distributors in the U.S. market, by De Rigo Vision, part of the Italy-based De Rigo Group S.p.A., a world leader in the design, production and distribution of high-end eyewear and sunwear.

The acquisition is part of De Rigo Group’s strategic plan to further its international expansion, reinforcing the group’s presence in the U.S. and creating what is now the fourth largest provider of eyewear in the world, with total revenues in excess of $500 million.

In addition, and a major part of the company’s message to business partners here in the U.S., is the creation of the largest family-owned provider of eyewear. “We consider all of our customers, employees and stakeholders as family,” said Massimo De Rigo, executive chairman, who told Vision Monday, “Family means ‘values,’ it means taking care of our customers; they are not just a number. Customer service is serious and important.”

Added De Rigo REM’s CEO Mike Hundert, “Caring for people means there’s an extraordinary focus on customer service and what that means.”

Speaking of the progress to date, De Rigo said, “First, we needed to learn how to understand each other, because putting together two companies and cultures is not easy. That’s an important first step. Now we are in the second phase, to focus on becoming an even more significant company in the U.S. We have a competitive platform with REM, we have interesting brands from De Rigo, and we are working in the product and marketing areas.

Noted Hundert, “There is a lot of turmoil among the top companies in the market today … with the exception of De Rigo. We now have a chance to promote ourselves and show the market here that we are a powerful company with a huge portfolio of compelling brands and a range of services.”

Steve Horowitz, De Rigo REM’s president, pointed out, “The philosophy is to keep the things that made REM a special company and to leverage the brand portfolio and power of the De Rigo Group here in the U.S. and globally.”

At last month’s Vision Expo East, the two companies showcased a new image to the U.S. at a completely redesigned booth. Horowitz said, “We had our biggest show ever, and, more importantly, throughout our meetings with independent ECPs, alliances, regional and national retailers, they all wanted to see our expanded portfolio of products, but also, to have conversations about the enhanced logistics, supply chain and service capabilities we offer.”

The extensive wholesale network managed by De Rigo Group includes products distributed in approximately 80 countries, through 16 companies and over 100 independent distributors. The Group is active in all the major markets of the world with its own brands Lozza, Police, Sting and Lozza Sartoriale and with the licences Blumarine, Carolina Herrera New York, CH Carolina Herrera, Chopard, dunhill, Escada, Fila, Furla, Lanvin, Loewe, MilleMiglia, Nina Ricci, Tous, Trussardi, Victor Hugo, Zadig&Voltaire.

De Rigo REM showcased its new image to the U.S. at a completely redesigned booth during last month’s Expo East.
Founded in 1953 by Efraim Remba, REM Eyewear was purchased by Gerry and Shirley Hundert in 1971. The company sells frames and sunglasses under the Converse, John Varvatos, Lucky Brand, Jones New York, Jonathan Adler, Cosmopolitan, TUMI and Spine brands.

In the U.S. market, the brands from De Rigo which will be initially coming into the U.S. market include Police, Chopard, Carolina Herrera, Dunhill, Lanvin and Nina Ricci.

Michele Aracri, De Rigo Group’s CEO, said, “There are several important components of our strategy. A priority is to invest in systems and IT. Today in the world market, it’s essential to invest in technologies that give you information quickly and accurately. It you don’t, you operate simply as a local player. But we are taking an international view and we are bringing the sophisticated systems to our business here in the U.S. for our accounts here.”

Added, Horowitz, “This helps our planning as a company but even more importantly, by providing access to data and information, this will assist our customers to know what can work best with each of them, specifically.”

In the planning stages for implementation in the future, is “Freedom,” the company’s own name for its special information and supply-chain solutions platform, to its customers in the U.S. Noted De Rigo, “Why do we call it ‘Freedom.’? Again, this is linked to family; we don’t like to impose, to be dictating. This is going to be a powerful commercial tool for our customers.”

Aracri added, “Training will be another strategic point for us. Expedited training will be critical for our internal staff and sales teams but also to help our accounts better manage their sales and, importantly, their margins.”