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The BoF Podcast | Francesca Bellettini on Managing Creativity, Customers and the Bottom Line

Kering’s new deputy CEO of brand development shares her luxury brand management playbook in this archive interview with Imran Amed from BoF VOICES 2018.
Francesca Belletini was appointed deputy CEO of brand development at Kering
Francesca Belletini was appointed deputy CEO of brand development at Kering (Getty Images)
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Background:

Last week, Francesca Belletini was appointed deputy CEO of brand development at Kering, making her arguably the most powerful female fashion executive in the luxury sector. As part of her new role, not only will she retain her position as CEO of Saint Laurent, she will also oversee Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen. It was at Saint Laurent, where the former investment banker cemented her reputation for razor-sharp merchandising strategies that married seamlessly with the work of creative director Anthony Vaccarello.

“When you clarify the brand positioning, then everything comes together,” said Bellettini, on revitalising the Saint Laurent brand. “People recognise the authenticity in the way that we do that.”

BoF founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed sat down with Bellettini at BoF VOICES 2018 to discuss how she balances the priorities of fostering creativity, cultivating customers and running a profitable business.

Key Insights:

  • Credited for growing Saint Laurent into a multi-billion-euro powerhouse, Bellettini believes that a key is to connect with customers in their home markets. “I’m a huge believer of building business first with local clients. Conquer a consumer at home, then when they travel, they follow,” she said.
  • Another key is authenticity. “It’s better to present yourself the way you really are… Be authentic. If they choose you, they remain with you,” said Belletini on the importance of building meaningful relationships with customers.
  • At Saint Laurent, Bellettini had a clear vision for growing both the top and bottom lines, “but in reality it’s the profit that makes your business sustainable,” she explained.
  • Striking a balance between growth and continuing to resonate as a brand is top of mind for Bellettini. “How do we remain relevant? How do we continue growing without compromising on the positioning of the brand? How do we continue to launch a successful product?” she asked.

Additional Resources:

  • Who Should Be Gucci’s New CEO?: Following this week’s announcement that longtime Gucci chief Marco Bizzarri will exit the company in September, Imran Amed shares his top picks for one of the top jobs in the global luxury industry.
  • As Gucci’s CEO Steps Down, Saint Laurent’s Chief Steps Up: Marco Bizzarri led the Italian luxury giant through a historic expansion before the business struggled to bounce back from the pandemic. Parent company Kering announced the move as part of a broader executive shakeup after which Saint Laurent CEO Francesca Bellettini will oversee all the group’s brands.
  • How Saint Laurent Became a $3 Billion Powerhouse: Chief executive Francesca Bellettini breaks down how she worked with designer Anthony Vaccarello to double sales in 5 years, leaning into an amped-up take on Parisian glamour, seasonless merchandising and a rapid expansion in leather goods.

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