MILAN, Italy – With the release of Bottega Veneta’s sales figures for 2012, the PPR-owned Italian maker of discreet high-end leather goods and ready-to-wear publicly joins a small club of luxury companies that have crossed over into $1 billion-plus sales. While several mass luxury brands such as Coach and Michael Kors have surpassed the $1 billion mark in recent years, among high luxury brands only megabrands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Cartier, Hermes, Burberry, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Dior can be counted in this group.
The milestone, which the company’s president and chief executive officer Marco Bizzarri attributes to Tomas Maier’s creative stewardship and mastery of strategic branding, is especially noteworthy given the fact that Bottega, a relative newcomer to the stable of top tier luxury brands, was re-positioned just over a decade ago, in 2001, when the brand, then on the verge of bankruptcy, was acquired by the PPR-owned Gucci Group and Maier was installed as creative director. The house is most widely known for its trademark woven-leather Intrecciato bags, which retail at 5,000 euros ($6,700) and up, though the brand also offers small leather goods at lower price points.
Today, Bottega Veneta is PPR’s second-largest brand, after Gucci, in terms of sales and its most profitable, successes that can be attributed to its “stealth luxury” branding and its controlled and steady approach to growth, eschewing aggressive expansion in emerging markets in favour of a focus on traditional markets like Europe, where tourist flows, often from Asia, make up approximately 50 percent of sales.