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Luxury at its best, 'made in Veneto'

Bottega Veneta has unusual recipe for success

17 April, 15:59
Luxury at its best, 'made in Veneto'

(ANSA) - Vicenza - It's in the name. Bottega Veneta, one of the most exclusive Italian brands with double-digit growth and understated marketing strategy.

While Made in Italy is the headline, the subtitle Made in Veneto is equally, if not more, indicative. Founded in 1966 and famous for its 'intrecciato' or woven handbags, the brand was purchased in 2001 by Gucci Group and has become the best performer of the parent company.

The magic of these bags that fetch from 2,000 to 75,000 euros each, comes from "the passion that creative director Tomas Maier and the craftspeople that work closely with him instill in the products", says 48-year old CEO Marco Bizzarri. Bizzarri requires Bottega Veneta sales-force members from around the world to visit the workshop in Vicenza, "because only seeing the way our products are made you can understand their peculiarities and transfer it to the consumer".

Eighty percent of the brand's bags are handmade and all are woven in the northern Italian region of Veneto. Despite joining the company in 2009, on the eve of the global luxury crisis, Marco Bizzarri has guided Bottega Veneta through surprising growth. In 2010, revenues rose 27% to 510.6 million euros and earnings rose 45% to 133 million euros (before interest and tax). Because of the demand fueled by this growth, production capacity had to be increased in 2011, adding on to the 100 artisans already working in the Vicenza factory. "For us it is very difficult to find skilled labor, and bearing in mind the growth in recent years, this is starting to become a problem", says Bizzarri. The answer, he found, was right in front of him. With local unemployment in the company's hometown of Vicenza on the rise, and a once-thriving artisan community pulling down its shutters, Bottega Veneta decided to stay local.

"The goal was to create jobs and know-how, and so...we established the Women's Cooperative Montana. They all have previous experience in working leather and fabrics and were further trained by our master craftsmen". The special weaving technique that gives Bottega Veneta bags their midas touch is called 'intreccio infilato' and has been used by 'Vicentini' (from Vicenza) artisans for centuries. Bottega Veneta has accomplished two deft moves with the production cooperative.

Says Regional Councillor Marino Finozzi, "It is an example of how to employ those who have dropped out of the work circuit, restoring strength to a disadvantaged area, while maintaining and revitalizing traditional skills that are disappearing". Now that sales of luxury goods are expected to rise through 2015, Bizzarri remains confident that the brand will continue its growth. As it is, the Vicenza factory can hardly produce to keep up with demand. Bizzarri doesn't hide the fact that "one of the reasons why we did this operation is to ensure production capacity".

That said, the initiative is proving so successful that it will most likely be replicated to meet the increasing demand for one of the country's, and region's, most subtly famous brands.