Ray Ban not quite done with ex­pan­sion

Eye­wear com­pany ea­ger to tap into the grow­ing de­mand for pre­scrip­tion glasses and style in the Chi­nese mar­ket

China Daily (USA) - - SHANGHAI - By XU JUNQIAN in Shang­hai xu­jun­qian@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Fifty Ray Ban stores have been opened in China in the past eight months, but Filippo Resini, CEO of Lux­ot­tica China, the par­ent com­pany of the Amer­i­can eye­wear brand, said that this is only the be­gin­ning of an ag­gres­sive ex­pan­sion.

“The de­ci­sion (to open mono­brand Ray Ban stores) was ac­tu­ally made by our chair­man and founder in Jan­uary. We opened the first store on Nan­jing East Road. It was a test, but it was so suc­cess­ful that the chair­man de­cided to open 50 stores in eight months in China,” said Resini af­ter the open­ing cer­e­mony of the 50th out­let in Novem­ber.

Known for its avi­a­tor sun­glasses, Ray Ban was founded in 1937 by Amer­i­can com­pany Bausch & Lomb. It was sold in 1999 to Ital­ian eye­wear group Lux­ot­tica, cur­rently the world largest eye­wear com­pany.

Though China is now home to the largest num­ber of Ray Ban stores in the world, Lux­ot­tica, which also op­er­ates re­tail chains like Len­sCrafter and Sun­glass Hut, is still plan­ning to open more out­lets in the coun­try — more specifi at least one store in the cap­i­tal city in 80 per­cent of the prov­inces in China. Resini said that the com­pany “wants to sell to all” and is not look­ing to tar­get spe­cific groups of con­sumers.

“I think the best strat­egy for China is to go for speed. It’s a very fast mar­ket. I have been here for 12 years. I do believe that the brands that can be suc­cess­ful are those who can ad­just their strate­gies ac­cord­ing to the change in con­sumer pur­chas­ing pat­terns,” said Resini, who had pre­vi­ously worked at brands in­clud­ing Geox and Rolex.

“I go to work ev­ery morn­ing by metro. I can see peo­ple at eight o’clock in the morn­ing wear­ing sun­glasses, not be­cause they need it to pro­tect their eyes from the sun’s rays, but be­cause it’s cool. When I first came here 12 years ago, not many peo­ple wore sun­glasses. Sun­glasses are be­com­ing more than just pro­tec­tive eye­wear, they have now be­come a must-have ac­ces­sory.”

Resini added that there is tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity in China’s eye­wear mar­ket, re­fer­ring to how 50 per­cent of univer­sity stu­dents in China need pre­scrip­tion lenses.

“You can just imag­ine the po­ten­tial. Our goal is to com­bine the need for pre­scrip­tions lenses with the choice of iconic prod­ucts,” said Resini.

A re­cent re­port by Euromon­i­tor showed that China’s eye­wear mar­ket, in­clud­ing both spec­ta­cles and con­tact lenses, posted a 10.2 per­cent com­pound an­nual growth rate from 2011 to 2016.

The re­port, which was based on sta­tis­tics from China’s Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion and the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, con­cluded that the grow­ing rates of my­opia among stu­dents and the ex­pand­ing age­ing pop­u­la­tion should con­tinue to drive the growth of the eye­wear mar­ket. The re­port also found that up to 85 per­cent of stu­dents from se­nior mid­dle schools in China suf­fer from my­opia.

Resini said that the com­pany’s de­ci­sion to ex­pand ag­gres­sively is not just based on the mas­sive pool of po­ten­tial cus­tomers, but also the in­creas­ing aware­ness about the need for qual­ity eye care.

Apart from the phys­i­cal stores, con­sumers can also pur­chase prod­ucts from the on­line store on Ray Ban’s of­fi­cial web­site and its flag­ship store on Tmall.

Resini also ex­pects that the big­gest chal­lenge fac­ing Lux­ot­tica’s ex­pan­sion would be find­ing the right bal­ance be­tween on­line and off­line growth, some­thing he ad­mits has yet to be achieved.

“There is a bal­ance re­quired in each step you take. Hon­estly, from my point of view, if you set a num­ber first, it’s not right. The right way to ap­proach re­tail in this coun­try is to be able to ad­just quickly,” said Resini.

“A few years ago, when peo­ple were talk­ing about e-com­merce, it only re­ferred to e-com­merce on com­put­ers. But now, we have e-com­merce on mo­bile de­vices as well. I think it’s very im­por­tant to move with the times and find bal­ance,” he added.

I think the best strat­egy for China is to go for speed. It’s a very fast mar­ket.”

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Filippo Resini, CEO of Lux­ot­tica China Filippo Resini, CEO of Lux­ot­tica China, be­lieves a speedy strat­egy best suits the fast-grow­ing Chi­nese mar­ket.

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