Major luxury companies make powerful statements showing they care, primarily for their own employees
Major Italian luxury companies or international luxury group which own and operated production facilities in Italy have taken very bold steps by shutting down, temporarily, these units, even urging their staff to work from home, thus providing them with the possibility to remain home and stay protected from the Coronavirus /Covid-19 while limiting the spread of the virus.
Beyond the ‘humane’ angle, companies showing they care, the most important message is that the unprecedented crisis has given the opportunity to major brands to give back to Italy, which remains world’s largest manufacturer of luxury leatherwear – shoes, bags, trunks, leather accessories.
By sending firm messages and conducting a coherent internal communications, employees are also reassured of their stability beyond this unprecedented crisis, reducing the level of stress, panic and anxiety.
The Italian fashion icon was the first taken drastic action back in February when the first signs of the Coronavirus were not yet confirmed in Europe. He hosted the catwalk show of his first line, Giorgio Armani without spectators having notified all invitees hours before the schedule time. Instead he broadcast the show live through streaming on the internet.
He was the first to closed all stores in Italy (including at major airports) as well production facilities owned and operated by the Armani Group. Armani Hotel Milano was the first luxury hotel in Milan to be completely shut down, Mr Armani realising the life threatening perils to staff, guests and local patrons – a very bold yet very sensible move which was supposed to send a powerful message for other luxury hotel in Milan. For instance, Mandarin Oriental Milan and Four Seasons Milan show generous availability in all room and suite categories – none of the hotels post any warnings on their websites.
It also announced the donation of 1.25 million euros to the Luigi Sacco and San Raffaele hospitals and the Istituto dei Tumori in Milan, as well as the Istituto Lazzaro Spallanzani in Rome, which are all fighting the coronavirus spread in the country. The amount will additionally support the activities of Protezione Civile, the country’s civil defense.
Italian luxury label Moncler is donating 10 million euros to support the Fiera Hospital project in the region of Lombardy, which has been badly hit by coronavirus, Covid-19.
The donation will go towards the construction of a hospital with more than 400 intensive care units in the ex Fiera Milano area, explained the brand in a statement.
The French luxury giant made a donation or EUR 76 million, the largest donation in Italy to fight the spread of coronavirus and research to identify a cure and a vaccine. Unlike direct rival Kering, the Italian based production units of LVMH brands have remained operational, personnel being informally urged to work less and if possible also work from home.
Italian luxury fashion house of Fendi which is fully owned by LVMH has donated EUR 100.000, however, their hotel in Rome has remained opened.
The Italian jeweller and watchmaker has closed its stores in Italy and has encourage staff, not only in Italy, but worldwide, to work from home. Production facilities have also been temporarily closed while BVLGARI CEO Jean Christophe Babin has taken a very targeted approach with donations, i.e. donating a ultra high-tech and most sophisticated microscope dedicated for research enabling Italian scientists and researchers to fast forward understand the virus – how it can be contained and treated.
Bvlgari Hotels remain operational, including in Milan – with some measures being taken to restrict access to Spa, wellness and gym facilities. However, bars and restaurants operate normally, a great risk given the proximity between guests. No matter how much better cleaning and disinfecting protocols are implemented, the risk posed by transmission with such highly frequented public space remain high. The most vulnerable remain AC filters which are impossible to disinfect after each guests stay – presently only two world renowned luxury hotel groups have added Silver particle ION filters in rooms and suites – machines used in operating rooms.
Kering donated 1 million euros for the fight of coronavirus at corporate level, however, key executives like Marco Bizzari made donations in their own name (EUR 100.000) All production facilities based in Italy which are owned by Kering Group companies including Gucci and Saint Laurent will remain closed until further notice, once the situation shows clear signs of improvement. Gucci has been closing stores throughout Italy, including airport and an estimated half of their retail chain in Italy. At middle-management level, Gucci has implemented a ‘four-day’ working week until further evaluation.
Prada’s co-ceos Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada, along with chairman Carlo Mazzi, have donated 6 full state-of-the-art intensive care units to the Vittore Buzzi, Sacco and San Raffaele hospitals in Milan.
Prada has not made any formal announcements regarding its retail – closing down temporarily only stores in Milan (including at Milan Malpensa Airport) and also about 30% of its retail chain in China.
After the controversy they generate in China 2 years ago, the creative and ownership duo the house have chosen to make significant investment in ample research projects led by professors Alberto Mantovani e Cecilia Garlanda of the Humanitas University, to fast identify a cure for the Coronavirus.
The company is also financing a second study led by reputed virusologists Elisa Vicenzi e Massimo Clementi at the Universiy of San Raffaele. We have a moral support to invest in programs that are most likely to produce concrete results which will diminish the spread of coronavirus leading to identifying a cure.
Dolce&Gabbana have not advised formally on their production or retail network, except encouraging staff to work less and as much as possible work from home. Internationally, Dolce&Gabbana is one of the top 10 global luxury fashion brands which still relies in its retail on franchised stores – therefore, many such closure decisions depends on owners / franchisees too.
The company which owns brands such as Tod’s, Hogan and Roger Vivier has shuttered temporarily all stores in Italy and almost half of those abroad until end of March with a re-evaluation of the context at that time. The company did not clarify as to whether it has taken any measures to restrict its production.
Donatella Versace and her daughter made a private donation of 200.000 euros, while shutting down most stores in Italy and half of those in China. The company has not indicated any measures taken to protect its staff at production facilities in Italy.
The Italian Influencer and e-commerce entrepreneur Chiara Ferragni, who last Monday launched a fundraising campaign which raised 3.8 million euros, said that the digital platform that hosted her initiative made a donation of 250,000 euros to a range of Italian hospitals. In particular, gofundme.com, which was established in 2010 in the United States and already contributed 10,000 euros to Ferragni’s campaign supporting the San Raffaele hospital, will benefit hospitals across the Lombardy region, Naples and Milan.
Controlled by Renzo Rosso, OTB owns brands such as Diesel and Maison Margiela. The foundation of the company, OTB Foundation, is raising funds which it pledges to donate to a range of smaller hospitals in Italy, asking donors to provide specific suggestions according to needs. The company has closed the majority of its Northern Italy stores.
Also today, major luxury watchmakers ROLEX and HUBLOT made an unprecedented announcement closing their manufacturing in Switzerland for the next 10-14 days, subject to further evaluation. The decision is even more surprising considering Rolex ranks as one of the most secretive luxury watch brands. No statements from PANERAI, the only major Italian luxury, which is owned by Richemont.
Other smaller luxury fashion brands:
Santoni and Elisabetta Franchi each donated EUR 50.000. Santoni also runs a fundraiser to reach EUR 500.000. Stores of the two brands in Italy (except Fendi in Rome) remain closed.
Trussardi also made a donation and has closed all its stores in Italy, including its restaurant and bar in Milan.
Each day passing by with companies remaining silent shows indifference. Moreover, the hotel industry is widely implementing a copy-paste solution, which is to waive cancellation and stay modification fees – some guests have found this ‘concern’ as insulting and extremely superficial. Some major hotel groups which also own luxury hotel brands have not only sufficed to email guests through their loyalty but have also posed these ‘exceptional’ offers as scanned pdf on Instagram or Twitter.
Especially luxury hotels, are able to provide guests with the utmost privacy for example, to provided complimentary airport transfers (avoiding any crowds), breakfast made available only available through in-room dining, introduction of special menus to boost the immune system; restrict access to the hotel gym and instead, provide, an in-room kit.
Ensuring guests that ‘staff in the front lines’ are screened and even tested regularly – is extremely important. Few realise the close interaction by housekeeping staff or guest relations, but also waiting attendants.
It is unacceptable that in the context of this life threatening pandemic posed to travellers, luxury hotel properties in Milan belonging to reputed international luxury hotel groups still keep their hotels in cities like Milan fully operational – most striking is a top luxury hotel of a Hong Kong based luxury group. Unlike most other luxury hotel groups whose individual hotel pages include updates and special conditions and updated announcements (globally) the Milan property of this chain posts no announcements. Such messages or announcements to guests most often include: limited inventory may be operational (only a few floors may remain open / operational), the closure of Spa, pool, Gym, other wellness and Bars etc – all posing huge risks because of proximity between guests.