By Denis Langlois
Eric Blanchette is marking one year since becoming the Canadian director of Safilo, a worldwide leader in the design, manufacturing and distribution of sunglasses, optical frames and sports eyewear.
He says this is an exciting time for the company, as business in Canada is booming with double-digit growth.
“Our partners are choosing Safilo and we are committed to continuing to invest in our partners,” he says.
Blanchette, who is also vice-president of Safilo USA, has really come full circle at the company with his appointment as country director of Safilo Canada.
He started in the eyecare industry with Safilo Canada, but spent the last three years with Safilo USA, most recently as head of strategic partnerships.
He has also been a regional sales manager and key account manager with Safilo.
As the new head of Safilo Canada, Blanchette says he has helped to develop a top-performing team that delivers results.
As he puts it, “take care of your team and customers and the results will follow.”
Recently, Optical Prism got a chance to speak with Blanchette about his role with Safilo Canada and goals for the future.
- Please tell me about your background and what led you to this new role with Safilo?
A: As a kid born in North York, Toronto, and raised in Montreal, the opportunity to collaborate and lead Safilo Canada has been extremely exciting. Considering that I started my career in the industry with Safilo Canada and have spent the last three years as part of Safilo USA, one can say I’ve come full circle. The benefit of my experience is that I’ve made my mistakes already; optical is a complex business and my experience has allowed me to become a better leader. I’m focused on developing the best talent and agile teams to tackle this rapidly evolving market with our customers whose success is at the epicenter of all of our strategies. Having relationships with the key players – and what tools and solutions they need – empowers our team to truly make a difference.
- What are your short-term priorities as the head of Safilo Canada?
A: Our focus is to continue to build trust and confidence with our partners, primarily from a delivery and service standpoint. Our three main targets are: reducing complexity, improving speed to market and becoming a much more customer-centric organization. We are reinventing ourselves so that we’re known as being the easiest to do business with and one of the best organizations to work with and for!
- What about the long view. What are your priorities for the long term?
A: Positioning Safilo Canada as a partner for our customers, matching scale and capabilities to be close to them and tailoring our services to their needs. As a pure wholesaler partner, we are not in direct competition with our customers; we want to provide our customers with freedom of choice, partnership and customized business solutions in line with opticians’ day‐to‐day needs, offering a powerful portfolio and a consistent range of brands, products and services. We are working to gain speed and agility, reorganizing ourselves to secure an improved service to our customers by listening to their needs.
- What should ECPs know about Safilo as far as the quality and reputation of its eyewear?
A: Thanks to our strong craftsmanship expertise dating back to 1878, Safilo translates designs into high-quality products created according to long-standing Italian tradition. Safilo’s capabilities from a product standpoint are undeniable and unrivaled. Consumers want products that offer authenticity, quality and align with a greater purpose. Safilo is best suited to deliver on all those points. We have over 25 eyewear collections to meet the needs of consumers at all price points from our core owned brands such as Carrera, Polaroid and Smith, to luxury collections such as BOSS, Fendi and Jimmy Choo and fashion lifestyle brands like kate spade new york and Tommy Hilfiger. We are also excited to welcome several new brands to Safilo next year including, David Beckham, Levi’s, Tommy Jeans, Missoni and M Missoni.
- What excites you about the eyecare/eyewear industry today?
A: Being at the forefront of our customers’ journey and helping them to stay abreast of the newest ways to engage their patients in an agile way. The emerging consumer is being inundated with information and technology. We are excited to partner with our ECPs on creating new winning formulas to augment their current service and care strategies. Ultimately, helping them adapt to the newest technologies favored by more and more consumers.