A spotlight on Safilo

Safilo talks to OT  about sustainability, digital transformation, trends and 100% Optical

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Emerging from what Safilo describes as a successful 2022, the Italian eyewear group enters 2023 with ambitions to continue building its licensed and core brands, while also “nurturing and and supporting” its customers, both in independent opticians and selected partners/stores, despite the macro-economic challenges. OT  spoke to Safilo country director, Oscar Cera, about the company and its aims for 2023 and beyond.

What impact did the pandemic have on business? And how did you respond?

We are pleased with the development of our business in 2022. Our strategic objective to build a Safilo with a strong and balanced portfolio of brands, geographies, products and channels is progressing well.

Throughout the pandemic, we accelerated our infrastructure-related efforts to improve our systems, completed our digital investments, enhanced our service quality and saw a strong resilience in the optical sector. After the pandemic, we had the opportunity to implement these efforts on the field. The positive feedback we received motivated us even more. We were lucky to be in an industry that could operate throughout the pandemic. The sun category was negatively affected due to the restrictions put in place on the global travel industry, which as a result slowed our business. The optical category, on the other hand, was resilient as consumers kept visiting their local optometrist when they needed a new prescription because health became a priority for all of us.

As a response, we closely partnered with our customers to find solutions to keep the business running despite the restrictions. The needs and expectations of customers are at the centre of our organisation and are always at the heart of what we do. We are committed to putting our customers first, and those who choose us are our trusted partners who value our choices and our way of doing business.

The needs and expectations of customers are at the centre of our organisation and are always at the heart of what we do


As we move through the pandemic and into a cost of living crisis, how is Safilo managing the associated rising costs as a business?

We strongly believe that despite the resilience that our market has shown in the past, we must be more price sensitive and keep offering the best value for money solutions. Through licenses and acquisitions, we continuously aim at rebalancing our brand portfolio, with targeted additions that will allow us to gain a leading position in the various eyewear segments and reference markets.

How are you supporting customers in their businesses?

We are leveraging on our diverse brand portfolio to enable customers to be more competitive across different product segments. We are offering better flexibility, with trade terms enabling customers to effectively manage stock levels in line with macro-economic influences.

Our ambition is to become the privileged and strategic partner of opticians, which means that we will never try to replace them by entering retail with large acquisitions. The goal is to enable independent opticians to compete on the market through the digital and innovative tools that Safilo can provide.

We realise that sustainability is a journey, and we are committed to make it an important part of our business


Sustainability matters

Sustainability is of pivotal importance for Safilo. First and foremost it means, “protecting the environment and using renewable resources and materials, and greener production processes.” It can also be found in the company’s commitment to product design and production, as well as their impact on people.

What are Safilo’s short-term sustainability goals?

In line with our 2020–2024 plan, we started our sustainability journey and put in place a roadmap to guide our choices when it comes to planet, product and people. In 2022, Safilo Group joined The Fashion Pact, a global coalition of companies committed to key environmental goals in three areas: stopping global warming, restoring biodiversity and protecting the oceans. In the short term, Safilo Group is hoping to continue making positive changes when it comes to sourcing materials. We realise that sustainability is a journey, and we are committed to making it an important part of our business. Since 2021, we have been partners with Eastman and in 2022 we became the first player in the market to use all Eastman Renew materials for eyewear in its portfolio.

What are Safilo’s three sustainability pillars and how will they support the business through change?

In addition to the sustainable product choices we make, we wanted to build a holistic approach to sustainability by involving planet but also people. We added “people” not only because they are the heart of our business but because we also wanted to contribute to improving lives and supporting our ecosystems.

Since 2003, we have been proudly supporting Special Olympics, the international non-profit organisation dedicated to transforming the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.

Safilo on tablet

Digital transformation

Responding to change is key in business. How has Safilo responded to digital advancements?

Sustainability is a key pillar of our 2020–2024 plan. The other equally important pillar is digital transformation, enabling us to reshape our business 360 degrees.

This encompasses developing B2B tools to enhance relationships with opticians and digitalising core business processes, including our B2B platform, You&Safilo, our WhatsApp channel, and our own new upgraded Sales Force Automation, which we are rolling out progressively.

Can you tell us about Safilo’s You&Safilo platform?

You & Safilo was established in 2020 as our one-stop-shop solution designed to help independent opticians to browse our portfolio of brands, place orders, manage spare parts/warranties and interact with our customer service 24/7. Since its launch, we have been gathering insights from our network and introducing improvements to make You&Safilo an essential resource and help our opticians run their practices without the need for a physical interaction. We are proud to see that You&Safilo has already enabled us to improve our relationships with customers in remote areas, offering greater flexibility for both our sales representatives and our opticians.

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