Clothing a second generation of impressive business leaders, diplomats and entrepreneurs, CEO of Stefano Ricci Niccolò Ricci says that London is Europe’s undisputed capital of luxury
The luxury sector is often viewed in simplistic terms and seen as a mere bellwether for changes in the economic cycle, however, such a narrow view risks missing the bigger picture: trends in the luxury sector can provide unusual insights into our increasingly complex world.
Our company, Stefano Ricci, is headquartered in Florence, Italy. We are deeply proud of our Italian heritage and our collections which are entirely made in Italy. But throughout our 45-year history we have adopted a global outlook, understanding that our high net-worth clientele increasingly see a world without borders. Much of our commercial strategy is focused on the expansion of our network of over 50 boutiques worldwide. The decision to open a boutique in a new market, particularly in an emerging market, requires an acute understanding of political and economic trends. As a result, it is luxury store openings, not merely sales, which are the most powerful way developments in the retail sector can help foreshadow a country’s likely trajectory.
Stefano Ricci opened its first store in Shanghai in 1993. We were the first luxury brand to open a standalone store in China, making an early bet on the country’s economic growth. Today, China is one of our most important markets. Whereas many luxury brands have only recently found their footing in China, Stefano Ricci is now serving the second generation of its Chinese clientele.
In today’s globalised world, experiences in one market often inform expansion in another. Our success in a number of emerging markets led to our creating close relationships with our clientele. It was through friendly conversations with these impressive business leaders, diplomats and entrepreneurs that we came to understand more about the importance, for example, of Vancouver for wealthy families. In 2017, we opened our first store in Vancouver to better serve clients who had made permanent relocations to the city.
In this way, the expansion of Stefano Ricci’s boutiques worldwide reflects the ever-increasing mobility of luxury consumers. The speed with which the global community of high net-worth individuals move, changing their place of residence or place of business every few years, requires us to be as proactive as possible about our expansion. We can no longer wait until a market’s luxury segment matures. We must have the foresight to gain a foothold in the market before it reaches its next stage of growth.
Last December, we opened our first standalone boutique in London, taking a flagship location on South Audley Street in the heart of Mayfair. Due to the use of briar root wood paneling and travertine marble finished by workshops in Italy, each Stefano Ricci store requires significant investment. In the case of London, we made a sizeable investment to bring the retail space up to our exacting standards. This expenditure was easily justified because we see London growing in its position as Europe’s undisputed capital of luxury, despite Brexit.
London has a fundamental appeal, characterised by its high standard of living, cosmopolitan outlook, and favourable tax and relocation policies, which will remain unchanged post-Brexit. If anything, many of our loyal clientele describe greater confidence as to their necessity to London’s economic fabric. It seemed then that in order to remain close to our clients, a bigger commitment to London was warranted.
This commitment was validated by our peers in luxury retail. London saw more luxury boutique openings in 2016 than any other city worldwide. In retail, like in diplomacy, it is impossible to predict the future. But we can be confident that London will continue to be a leading global city.
56 South Audley Street,
London W1K 2QH
T: +44 (207) 629-7009