Businessman Leonardo del Vecchio, who has died aged 87, established the glasses corporation that owns models including Ray-Ban and made use of his billions to become a single of the most influential figures in Italian finance.
Del Vecchio rose from a childhood in an orphanage to amass a fortune of tens of billions of euros in one particular of the most well known rags-to-riches stories in Italy’s article-war financial restoration.
At the conclude of 2021, he was Italy’s next richest male, guiding only Giovanni Ferrero of the Nutella-creating team, in accordance to Forbes.
As is prevalent in Italy, Del Vecchio, the chairman of spectacles maker EssilorLuxottica, did not retire quietly and, if anything at all, stepped up his business functions when he was in his 80s.
In 2018, he sealed a major merger offer to combine the Luxottica enterprise that he experienced launched in 1961 with France’s Essilor.
In addition, his Delfin holding organization is the largest shareholder in Italian monetary products and services group Mediobanca and also has a sizeable stake in insurer Generali, placing him at the heart of the country’s boardroom intrigues.
Del Vecchio was born into poverty. His father, who bought fruit and vegetables, died when he was young, and his mother handed him above to a Milanese orphanage when he was 7 mainly because she could not manage to convey him up.
He learnt metalwork in a resource shop just before placing up a small business giving parts for eyeglasses in Agordo, a village in the Dolomite foothills in north-east Italy where by land was made available to new businesses.
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Right after a tricky start out when it practically went bust, the firm started off generating its have eyeglasses a ten years afterwards and expanded fast in the 1980s when Del Vecchio spotted the worth of creating spectacles as a trend accent fairly than a necessity.
He struck licensing offers with Giorgio Armani in 1988 and went on to do the job with other luxurious manufacturers these kinds of as Bulgari, Chanel, Prada and Valentino.
Acquisitions were also component of the Del Vecchio tactic.
In 1999, the enterprise purchased the well-known Ray-Ban brand and went on to purchase California’s Oakley as properly as retail chains in North The united states and Australia.
Like a lot of ageing Italian entrepreneurs, critics say Del Vecchio struggled to detach himself from his generation, failing to cede handle and designate an heir.
He has six children from 3 relationships and remarried his second spouse in 2010.
For a 10 years he loosened his grip on his business, handing over the reins to Andrea Guerra, while remaining Luxottica’s chairman.
But disagreements with Guerra led to his unexpected exit in the summer season of 2014, and Del Vecchio returned to be the driving force at Luxottica’s Milan headquarters.
He turned more and more involved with even trivial issues, such as telling team how to pack containers for an office environment move, previous staff members say.
Del Vecchio was also caught up in a sequence of boardroom battles and the EssilorLuxottica deal was adopted by a prolonged struggle above how to divide top rated careers among the Italian and French camps.
- Reporting by Silvia Aloisi and Claudia Cristoferi Creating by Keith Weir modifying by Barbara Lewis, of Reuters.