Interviewee: Jean-Michel Ledeur (Silhouette Regional Sales Director)
The epidemic has changed our lifestyles a lot, with more reliance on digital tools, social distancing, cashless payment, etc. How do you see the impact to the whole eyewear industry?
Certainly, the eyewear industry is affected. Drop in tourism had a massive impact on sunglasses business for example. Many customers try to order through digital means. But a pair of glasses still need to be “tried on”. Silhouette actually already offers on its website the latest technological digital try-on software. Available on computers and mobile phone through Silhouette.com website. But in order to involve and support our long-term Optical retail partners, we will promote a try-online / buy through your local optical store approach. This way, local business can still thrive and consumers can benefit from best local service level.
What’s the biggest challenge for the brand and retailer?
Covid brought into the business equation hundreds of new challenges. The most challenging was to maintain contacts with our business partners under the new circumstances. When to visit? Which safety measures to implement? How to use more online videos and chat to stay in touch? How to help them sell-out and prepare for the post covid rebound?
How has these impacts and challenges affected or changed your company (e.g. business model, strategies…etc?) How did you manage to shift to the new approach?
Covid actually helped us accelerate a strategical shift towards a sell-out approach that has been initiated a couple of years back. In that regards, it is confirming that the direction taken by the company is the right one.
How do you forecast 2021?
In 2020, in spite of the Covid, we are actually growing vs last year in both our subsidiary markets of China and Hong Kong. This is all due to the dedication of our team and the support of our retail partners. As you know, our business is strongly relying on optical glasses with high quality, timeless best sellers like the Titan Minimal Art series. We believe that in the coming years, people will have a more conservative approach and in this environment, working with a solid long term company like Silhouette will be an advantage for all our optical partners.