About two weeks before their December 29e gala, Italian retailer LuisaViaRoma traveled to the French-ruled Caribbean island of St. Barts to begin production of their latest UNICEF benefit. As the inaugural event, family business patriarch Andrea Panconesi hopes the benefit, presented this time by English pop star Dua Lipa, will become an annual event tailor-made to woo U.S. clients with rich philanthropic pockets.
IPO IN PROGRESS
Panconesi sat down with me on the morning of the event to describe what next year will be like for the Florentine retailer who pioneered e-commerce in Italy over 21 years ago to become a luxury website. world-leading. He recently became President of LuisaViaRoma by handing over the reins to former YOOX Managing Director Alessandra Rossi, the new CEO.
âI reached a point where I did what I wanted to do, so now I was ready to give it to another person to take the next steps and see what they could do,â Panconesi explains, â In terms of society, I put it in a good economic position. ” This position includes rapid growth over the four years for the 92-year-old retail business.
New CEO Alessandra Rossi has a long CV in luxury retail, having worked for a competitor for 12 years as the right hand man of YOOX’s Federico Marchetti. She left the Italian e-commerce platform in 2015, but returned in 2017 after the YOOX and Net-A-Porter merger took place, leading its off-season discount division.
“She was instrumental in the merger of Net-A-Porter and Yoox and in bringing the company to the stock exchange. That’s what we want to do over the next three years,” Panconesi said, adding : “To me it’s totally new, but she went through it, so she will lead him in the right direction.”
An outside investor helps fuel this objective. For the first time in the retailer’s history, they hired a minority investor, Style Capital, in October 2021, a firm specializing in investments in fashion businesses, which retains 40% of LuisaViaRoma. Another investment from Style Capital, for example, is Australian brand Zimmerman.
Rossi is responsible for helping prepare for the IPO starting with growth. âIn 2020 we increased by 30%; in 2021 it was 15%. I told him we wanted to do 20% for 2022 because we can do 15 without your help.â He also cites updating their quarterly reports to get financial results faster.
The rapid growth, according to Panconesi, is in part due to their philanthropic efforts over the past four years, which include the UNICEF gala which, until this edition, was held in Europe, particularly in Porto Cervo, in Sardinia and Capri, Italy. The president sees St. Barth as the place to engage in American philanthropy.
âOur target for 2022 is the American market. We came to Saint-Barth because we wanted to replicate the success of previous events. It helped us position ourselves on the right prospect and the right clientele, âhe explains. He is a firm believer in the return on investment of giving, which he compares to the love you give your children that comes back in duplicate. “We want to be a good company to do good for others. If you do good for others, you are doing good for yourself.”
UNICEF, for whom the benefit gala also explores the development paths of private patrimonial philanthropy. Kiernan O’Brien, head of global philanthropy at UNICEF, explained why this is an area of ââgrowth for the International Children’s Aid Fund, established 75 years ago. âWe create tailor-made approaches to private grant making, establishing a common mission and aligning ourselves with values ââand purpose,â he explained of his division. âMany families and individuals we work with describe their philanthropy as a journey that defines their lives. The trip we have taken with the Panconesi family is an example of confidence and action. Together, we make an impact for children in an effective and lasting way while also providing the opportunity to write your life story.
The event took place at Eden Rock, the island’s most prestigious and well-known seaside resort. Guests included figures such as Leonardo Di Caprio, Kygo, Danielle Bernstein of WeWoreWhat and Cuba Gooding Jr., who took the stage by storm during the sale of a set of guitars and drums signed by famous musicians. , urging people to “show me the money” for the kids. The evening ended with Grammy Award-winning Dua Lipa performing five of her most popular songs. Around 400 guests, mostly Americans residing on the exclusive island, were in attendance and the event raised around 4.4 million euros. The aim is to make the event biennial with the summer edition in Capri and the winter edition in St. Barts.
According to Kate Davidson Hudson, who has been appointed editor-in-chief of LVR Magazine, a stand-alone publication produced by the retailer to market itself in the U.S. market, the media comeback has paid off so far. “The event worked well for our positioning as a brand; we had 7.5 billion media impressions in the US press of the event in Capri last summer.” The event, which Katy Perry and John Legend headlined, marked the first time a major US press covered the event.
While Panconesi believes there is “everything to do in the US market because we are not known there and it is the number one market,” Davidson-Hudson confirms that the brand is making progress. âThe numbers confirm that penetration in the United States is increasing rapidly. The website’s digital statistics show that our presence has increased and the healthiest metric is the conversion rate, which has increased by 40% year-over-year. “In the fourth quarter of 2021, the US app hit a peak active user conversion with an increase of 30.1%.”
âThe magazine is a good example of how the company is developing in terms of marketing,â says Panconesi. More so, the numbers confirm this as good business practice. Google Analytics also shows a 120% increase in the average weekly pageviews on the website for the US market since the magazine’s launch, and the US has the highest average value per order.
LVR magazine was launched as a stand-alone editorial platform entity not dependent on or subsidized by advertising sales. However, recently, for the second issue, brands have expressed interest in partnering.
âWe have seen an influx of ad requests currently beyond our bandwidth,â said Davidson Hudson, adding, âThis could be a potential new revenue stream.â She noted personalized programs that were activated in St Barts. “It must make sense for the brand.” For example, Brazilian dressmaker Pat Bo invests in advertising in the magazine and, as an added value, dresses top influencers and VIPs for the event, who will then be photographed and tagged on social media. âLuisaViaRoma has growth potential and a healthy conversion rate. The branding exercise turns into a potential source of income.
Another philanthropic endeavor is LuisaViaRoma’s partnership with Extreme E racing, which just completed the first of its three-year partnership. A traveling exhibition of more than 40 photographs taken by the photographers Luca Locatelli and Gabriele Galimberti, with comments from journalist Raffaele Panizza who were responsible for recording the race, is expected to depart from Florence, Italy. Tentative locations for 2022 include Chile, Uruguay, Senegal, among others. âWe are working with sustainable tracksuit company Pangaia for the event, and we would like to partner with a different designer for each stage of the race,â added Paconesi.