NeroGiardini has cemented itself as a major player in Italy, with nearly $200 million in annual sales. Now, the company has its eyes set on North America. With an international flair, the brand is banking on its made-in-Italy product, accessible price point and its on-trend assortment of sneakers and fashion comfort-sandals to set itself apart from competition.
Officially launching stateside for spring ’20, NeroGiardini will debut at Neiman Marcus and specialty stores this month.
“This is the right moment,” said owner and CEO Enrico Bracalente. “We have shopped and studied the North American market, paying maximum attention to the product and styles, as well as [finding] the right team of people.”
The company has hired two sales executives in the U.S. and one in Canada, and it’s investing in a Toronto showroom, as well as one in New York by the end of the year.
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Here, Bracalente discusses NeroGiardini’s strategy in detail.
What are your retail goals for North America?
EB: “We would like to replicate the method used in Italy and Belgium where we are leaders targeting multibrand stores, with more than one shop, as well as wholesale. We also want to partner with the best department stores in North America, both in the U.S. and Canada, such as Neiman Marcus.”
In terms of design, what are some key styles that you are anticipating will connect most with consumers?
EB: “Sneakers, of course, will dominate the scene. We offer them with a high fashion bottom and fit, which is the result of careful research and innovative details. Having debuted our spring ’20 collection at Coterie, Micam, Atlanta and Toronto [tradeshows], our sneakers and fashion casuals were the stand outs.”
What can we expect from your fall ’20 collection?
EB: “In addition to sneakers, we will continue with weatherproof [styles], hikers and tall boots, which we expect will be very strong. We also see riding boots being important in Q4. During the colder months, customers want to be trendy, but quality footwear is even more important because of weather conditions.”
What is the demographic you are targeting?
EB: “We are a commercial brand with over 30 years of history in Italy and Europe and have come to know our customer very well. Those who buy NeroGiardini appreciate the superior style and quality of made-in-Italy shoes and recognize our attention to detail and design. Our customer spends their money thoughtfully, and values our excellent balance between quality and price, which retails between $200 and $300.”
How do you plan to set yourself apart from others with similar price points?
EB: “NeroGiardini stands out with products manufactured by highly-qualified workers. We continually invest in state-of-the-art machinery and technology to cut down lead times and get shoes to our customers faster. For this reason, we want to create our space in the market in the medium-high range.”
How important is Italian production and manufacturing to your business?
EB: “I kept the production in Italy even when, during the late ’90s, everyone suggested the intelligent delocalization with cheap labor. I stayed in Italy because of the quality of the product and out of respect for my collaborators. Today, the facts are on our side. NeroGiardini shoes are produced in the center of Italy in 15 factories. We employ over 2,000 workers, and produce 15,000 pairs of shoes every day. We believe that the U.S. and Canada, based on the quality of our product, service, speed and communication, will appreciate and continue to value our heritage.”
What do you want new customers to take away from your brand?
EB: “Our shoes are held to the highest quality standards. For example, each style before being marketed, is tested in our offices many times to perfect the fit. Furthermore, our shoes are extremely comfortable. Though we are a fashion brand, we are known for our comfort and consistent fit. Above all, though, I want our retail partners and customers to know that people are our most important asset. We invest in our employees so they can be proud to work for NeroGiardini, and I believe that translates to superior product.”
What are your expectations for the North American launch?
EB: “In [three to five years], we will learn more about our North American customers and build our retailer base. Then, maybe we will take another five-year period to gather good results. We have learned a great deal from other markets we have entered, and are making the investments we need to be here for the long term and win the North American customer. We believe this is the right time to replicate the success we have achieved in Italy and Europe.”