In the spite of the global crisis, Luxottica managed to make 2012 its best year ever of its 50 years long history. Perhaps the sole true Italian multinational in the fashion and luxury industry with just 15% of its 65,000 employees working in homeland Italy. Its founder and owner, Leonardo Del Vecchio, was born in Milan in 1935 as a child of an impoverish family. His father died prior to his birth and when he was seven he was given by his mother, unable to support him, to an orphanage – the Martinitt institute.
As he turned 15 and graduated in middle school he got out from the Martinitt and began his career as an apprentice to a tool and dye maker, whose owners believed he had a talent and pushed him to attend evening class at the Brera Academy school. As he discovered there to have unique metalworking skills he decided to make spectacle parts and in 1961 moved to Agordo, a small village in the northeastern mountain district of Belluno, which was already home to some Italian eyewear industries. In 1967 he started selling complete eyeglass frames under the Luxottica brand, which proved successful enough that by 1971 he ended the contract manufacturing business and started a vertical business: from production to distribution.
Nowadays Luxottica is an industrial model being studied at academic level, as is the case at the Harvard industrial management course, as a practical and winning example of the Italian economic miracle, a process capable to put together entrepreneurship, creativity, risk taking, along with a specific attitude to select the best of design and style, which often lies in the details, thanks to the long dated discriminating sensitiveness of Italian artisans. Among Luxottica’s most notorious customers there is the Los Angeles Police Department, whose agent wear the celebrated CHIPS sunglasses, the China Army and the entire glass lines of Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.
Since several years the group boasts a sales growth rate of 6-7 per cent yearly and of even twofold as profit are concerned thanks to its capability to grow both organically and via acquisitions as it happens with Ray-Ban, just to name a name, maybe the best deal Del Vecchio made in his decade long career. Now the entrepreneur, who is heading towards his Eighties, is facing a new challenge: the generational handover. To the purpose he created a special vehicle called Delfin, where each of his six children owns one sixth while the founder retains the usufruct so that no equity can be sold.