Bottega Veneta CEO says bigger, not more shops key to growth

Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:38am EDT
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By Astrid Wendlandt and Pascale Denis

PARIS (Reuters) - Bottega Veneta, Kering's No.2 luxury brand in terms of sales, is slowing down the pace of shop openings to preserve exclusivity, and plans to focus on enlarging and improving the performance of its existing stores, its head said.

The Italian brand famous for its "intrecciato", a weaving of leather stripes that makes its bags supple, robust and recognizable, is one of Kering's main growth engines, helping make up for slower growth at sister brand Gucci.

Bottega Veneta is also a relatively logo-free brand, which means that it suffers less than Gucci or bigger rival Louis Vuitton, owned by LVMH, from consumers' growing preference for more discreet labeling.

Gucci and Louis Vuitton have also been hit by excessive expansion and are now trying to regain their exclusivity by moving upmarket, offering more expensive leather bags and opening fewer shops.

"We need to carefully balance retail expansion and exclusivity, which is one of the biggest topics in the luxury goods industry today," Bottega Veneta Chief Executive Marco Bizzarri told Reuters in an interview.

"The ubiquity risk, Bottega Veneta is dealing with it."

Created in 1966 in Vicenza, Bottega Veneta saw sales soar to more than 1 billion euros ($1.39 billion) last year from 402 million in 2009. Sales rose nearly 14 percent on a like-for-like basis in 2013, while Gucci's nudged only 2.2 percent higher and were negative on a same-store basis.

When Kering bought the brand in 2001, it was loss-making and made revenue of 35 million euros.   Continued...

Marco Bizzari, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bottega Veneta, poses during an interview with Reuters at the Bottega Veneta's shop in Paris March 17, 2014. REUTERS/Charles Platiau