Speaking of the immediate future, therefore of what will happen in terms of sales in stores this summer, we can say that there will be a divide between those who generally work with tourists and those who have always had their local public, which is, in itself, a more stable market. It is usually preferable to exploit sales from waves of rich tourists but, this year, I’m afraid we will have to forget that.
Then there are exceptions, like Positano, where I have a customer who gave me some quite encouraging news: many of his historical Italian customers who have houses there – and who generally go abroad in the summer to avoid the vast crowds of tourists – will be going to the Amalfi coast instead this year. In other words, Italian tourism and Italian buyers, not foreigners, but this, as I said, is an exception.
Speaking more generally, apart from the days immediately after re-opening when we completed the few things confirmed with orders received prior to the emergency, some things have, unfortunately, been postponed and some cancelled due to a sense of uncertainty that has affected practically everyone, irrespective of nationality. The real problem for companies like ours is that, working so much with trade shows, since Vicenzaoro January we have not had the chance to visit customers and exhibit our goods. However, we have had some positive signs from our Italian customers which, at the end of the day, are noting a certain amount of euphoria on the part of the public. Some people who wanted or had to buy during these months for a celebratory event or some other occasion, have not given up on it. And this gives us a little sign of reprisal.
Any idea about the international market?
If we speak about the USA and Central America, there’s no denying that the situation is still serious. For years we have been working with leading retailers in Central America which, just recently, have told us that they have begun to open for half a day but people are finding it hard to think about going shopping when there is still a significant health crisis going on. The odd Rolex has been sold here and there but that doesn’t mean that the market is stabilizing. Here in Europe, it seems that something is moving in the Scandinavian countries but we work mainly with Greece and Turkey where most of our outlets are in luxury resorts. They are countries that are expecting a serious crisis for this summer because their turnover mainly depends on Russian tourists and many of the resorts where Giovanni Ferraris has an outlet will not even open in July and August. In Cyprus, for example, we have a partner who has three stores: he only plans to open the one on the street while the other two located inside luxury hotels, will stay closed. The one in the Four Seasons is not expected to re-open its doors until March 2021. The same scenario can be seen in Crete where we have an outlet in one of the Mediterranean’s top resorts: to date, they still don’t know if they will be hosting tourists while, last year, the season was optimal. We even served Jeff Besos, for example. And even in mainland Greece, where we are distributed inside Grecotel locations, the situation is still completely uncertain and on hold. We have to wait and see. And the situation is more or less the same in Dubai and the Middle East: no tourism, no shopping. And unfortunately, even the much-awaited end of Ramadan, at the end of May, a period in which many sales are generally registered, was cancelled by a highly restrictive lockdown.
Let’s by-pass the summer and make some predictions for autumn…
First of all, I’d like to make an upstream reflection. While up until 25/30 years ago, if a big crisis occurred in one part of the world and that particular area deadlocked for years, money automatically seemed to shift to another area. And if something happened there too, it all moved to yet another zone. And so on. To give an example, if Japan were the place in which everyone wanted to invest and Japan suddenly had a crisis, it was not a global problem: from there, all the interests would migrate somewhere else, in Russia, for example, and from there, should another emergency arise, they would shift to the USA or India, or the Middle East…. Now, on the other hand, crises are more and more global. Globalization also means this: sharing the negative effects of an event which, from local, becomes global.
Are you thinking about any new promotion strategies?
The only thing that makes us stand out on the market is getting people to understand that our product is not standard or mass produced. Even though, up to now, our core business has never been the “unique piece”, our added value is manufacturing quality, even at the entry price, which is around 700/800 €. To make people understand this extra value, we are developing a 4.0 presentation system: in the days before a pre-booked conference call, the customer will be able to watch a video and see photos showing the details of new collections and therefore have an initial screening in order to focus on what could suit his or her purposes. Then, during the pre-booked, on-line event, he or she will be able to ask to see what the item looks like on, view the details and we will be there to explain all the manufacturing process. In short, it will be a new way of getting the public into the Ferraris world. During these weeks, I have been asked in every possible way to create an on-line catalog but I have always refused. What I want to aim at is direct and human contact with my customers.
Will there also be new products in these on-line trunk shows?
At the moment, I think we will be showing the collections we had prepared for Baselworld but which, unfortunately, stayed in the drawer. Nobody has seen them yet and proposing further new ideas would be a pity. However, in these weeks of standstill, we did churn out several ideas that we will consolidate over the coming months. My wife, Katia, is the designer, while I deal with prototyping and product development. The new ideas mostly originated from a pragmatic consideration: we realized that we had an important stock of stones, some quite notable. Therefore, in a view to optimizing resources we already have, we began to think of a series of unique items, something which has always been a minimal part of our business. But why not indulge something that, in the end, is one of the market’s requests? For example, during these weeks, we made a highly valuable ring for a Spanish customer: as we completed the various work phases, we sent the customer short videos and photos of the different stages. And she was really enthusiastic to “meet” the person who was making her ring, to actually see those expert hands busy at the workbench. In short, she was able to enter our world and understand that what she will wear is the result of teamwork and enormous skill. A way to put ourselves forward and get ourselves known that we had never thought of before, perhaps one of the things that this recent experience has taught us.