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ABOUT VICENTE CASTELLANO

Oakley Capital
07 Dec 21

Alessi: partnering with a third-generation family business to rejuvenate an Italian icon

Alessi is an Italian design brand behind some of the world’s most iconic homeware and kitchenware. Founded in Omegna, Italy in 1921, the business is celebrating its hundredth anniversary with the third generation of the Alessi family at the helm. In 2019, Oakley Capital invested in Alessi in order to help it expand internationally and online. Vicente Castellano, an expert in luxury brands and an Oakley Operating Partner tells us why he fell in love with Alessi, and his ambitions for the brand.

WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT ALESSI

Brand Heritage: “It is almost impossible to find a brand with this much heritage together with a catalogue of best-selling products. Alessi is a unique brand, boasting a rich history of collaborations with some of the world’s most eminent luxury brands and industrial designers: LVMH, Fendi, Zaha Hadid, Philippe Starck. It sells everyday products we can use in our homes and kitchens, but at the same time they are objects of beauty.

Unique designs: “Alessi’s unique approach to design promotes new ideas and innovation, and brings it access to the world’s very best designers in a cost-efficient way. Each season, the business will decide what new products to launch. They send the brief to designers, and commission the design they like best, before launching them on the market. Alessi is the link between the idea, the design and the market.

B Corp: “The business is also a pioneer in sustainability: Alessi achieved B Corp status in 2017, a coveted recognition for its high-level of commitment to the local community and its equal focus on ‘people, planet and profit’.

Family Business: “The Alessi family are very protective of their brand heritage; they take it personally, given their name is on the product. At the same time, they are long-term investors, as you would expect with a third-generation family business. We saw an opportunity to work with the family to expand the business internationally and develop its online presence in a way that respected its unique brand and heritage.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Best-selling product: Michael Graves 9093 Kettle
  • Longest-serving employee: Marchisio Vito since 1981
  • Oldest design still in production: 1945 Bombè tea & coffee set

How we partnered with Alessi

Leadership development: “Daniel Talens spent 15 years working in the luxury and consumer industries across Europe and Asia-Pacific, a priority growth market for Alessi. In 2019, we helped hire him into Alessi as CEO, building on Oakley’s proven capability to recruit the best talent. Together with Daniel, we have helped professionalise the management team, hiring 43 professionals and investing millions of Euros in manufacturing, marketing and other core business areas.

Performance improvement: “Introducing performance and financial metrics has provided timely data and insights to guide the company’s investment and sales strategy. Up-to-date financial information also meant Alessi was well-placed to weather the impact of the COVID pandemic. Looking ahead, our ambition is to grow revenues to €100m in 2024.

Product investment: “A focus on product portfolio rationalisation has removed 1,000 SKUs while targeting investment into new product development and new categories such as home appliances, as well as fresh strategic initiatives. We established a dedicated B2B team to spearhead negotiations for partnerships with leading brands such as Nespresso, Bacaratt and Fendi.

Digital transformation: “Enhancing Alessi’s digital presence and online sales is a priority for the business. We brought management of the digital platform inhouse and launched a new Alessi.com website, hiring a digital director to manage the new team. This has enabled Alessi’s transition to a D2C business, which proved fruitful during Covid-related lockdowns.

Internationalisation: “We have invested in internationalisation, with new offices in New York and Hong Kong, and our first store in Ningbo, south of Shanghai. New flagship stores will soon open in London, New York and Macao, with various partner stores to be rolled out across other Asian cities.

Strong outcomes

“COVID has been immensely challenging for many high-end consumer brands, not least Alessi, given the impact of lockdowns and restrictions on the company’s manufacturing facilities in Italy and on retail spending across its core markets. Despite this, Alessi has seen promising performance in 1H 2021, underpinned by the growth in digital, B2B and wholesale business, with sales up 88%, 142% and 74% respectively against the same period in 2020. Ecommerce has risen from 10% to 30% of turnover. EBITDA margins have improved. Harry Finkelstein, President of ecommerce platform Shopify, has described Alessi as ‘an example of digital transformation and ecommerce in the world’. After two years, the experience has been even better than we imagined, the brand potential is unlimited and working with the Alessi family is a pleasure and an honour.”

ABOUT VICENTE CASTELLANO

Oakley Capital

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