We had the pleasure to sit down with one of the greatest figures in the eyewear industry Andrea Zaffin, Managing Director for Middle East, India and Africa for Safilo Group.
We stole a few moments from his busy day to ask him about the optics market in Egypt and Safilo’s most recent event including collections of brands like Carrera, Jimmy Choo, Hugo Boss, Kate Spade, Tommy Hilfiger, Polaroid and more.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your professional experience in the eyewear industry.
I’ve been in the industry for more than 20 years, and around the same time I started traveling and working in the middle east so I had a chance to get familiar and become passionate with these countries. The first time I came to Egypt was in 1996 and then I moved to Dubai where I live and work. I am pleased and I feel lucky to be working in the eyewear industry which has been changing and evolving rapidly.
I’ve been with Safilo for nearly 3 years as the head of Middle East, Africa and India, which I consider another important chapter in my career. This standalone region has a specific identity and special focus and attention from the company. Egypt especially is a very important country for Safilo and generally for the optical industry and that’s the reason we are having an event to reconnect with our clients and partners and to celebrate this collection.
How did the market in Egypt develop since the last time you were here?
Egypt has been going through a phenomenal growth of modern retail. The Egyptian market is well established and it is considered a reference for the region.
Egypt has second and third-generation opticians who are very strong and independent, they are the backbone of the industry. Local retailers are investing to provide a better experience and environment for optical products and connecting with customers.
The quality of our retailers and the level of service that we are able to provide are very important to us.
What is Safilo Decoded? What does this event mean to you as Safilo?
To open up and connect with our partners. The possibility to really connect together the past year and a half has been disrupted and we are rediscovering the pleasure of meeting again with a safe and proper protocol.
Personally, I like to focus on being in the market or in the field, meeting our clients, and seeing the stores.
What are the latest trends in the Egyptian market for eyewear?
Here you have a really good example of trends, design and new collections. The Egyptian client is very well aware of the latest fashionable designs, styles and new trends. The retailers here are also very open and up to date.
What makes Safilo brands stand out?
We are well known of our capability with beautiful designs and manufacturing high quality products, that is I would say, a strong recognition point for Safilo.
The capability to interpretate each brand and bring to life the design and the elements that distinguish the brands we work with and translate it into beautiful eyewear.
Safilo has a diverse brand portfolio, which ones do you believe fit most the Egyptian market?
We have a very complete portfolio covering all the segments. We see good growth in the mid-tier, so brands like Tommy, Carrera, Boss, Levi’s and more affordable products like Polaroid which is important in this area because it provides great protection with its polarized lenses. It is actually the first polarized eyewear ever manufactured.
So, in terms of range, collections, materials and price-point the coverage is very good.
What makes this collection different or special?
Every collection is special. I feel a different connection, excitement and emotion with every collection. The capability to innovate and create unique designs is incredible.
To interpretate the taste of consumers, meet the needs and expectations of our clients as well as the values and characteristics of our brands are what make a collection relevant and successful.
Are you more customer-focused or brand/product-focused?
We have to move in parallel maintaining an approach on both. We understand our customer’s needs, at the same time, we try to remain true to the DNA of our brands. For instance, Carrera has a very strong DNA and character, it is very unique and it has a strong legacy, having been in this region for decades.
Maintaining this strong connection with customers is a challenge. It’s easy to be trendy for 1 or 2 years then lose appeal. Remaining relevant in terms of proposition, offer and content for decades is hard.
What is your advice to the optical stores in improving their business?
Become more relevant, serve clients better and make this industry bigger. With new generations, the dynamics are creating more opportunities so we need to connect with the younger generations in a different way.
I believe eyewear is still seen as more of a necessity so, the more we add to the idea of beauty, pleasure and enjoyment of new designs and styles, the stronger this industry will be.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
I’m always very happy to see young people taking the challenge and entering our industry. It is not a saturated market and it proved to be still growing even during Covid.
Young people who have the passion and the will to dedicate their life to enter this industry need to do it with passion, always work with professionalism and keep working hard to do it better. This will be the driver of growth for our industry and for Egypt.
Know more about the Safilo group: https://www.safilogroup.com/en/about-us
Find Safilo products in Egypt online through: www.hvoptics.com