Alessandro Maria Ferreri, chief executive officer and owner of The Style Gate consulting firm, also does not see managers wanting out of the luxury industry. He believes that companies will try to balance a decrease in sales by cutting costs — including the number of its employees. The problem, he continued, is that often luxury companies “perceive their business as a bathtub: when there is too much water, they release some and when there’s lack of water they replenish: the problem sits in this schizophrenic attitude,” which leads to a high turnover of managers and the risk of a loss of loyalty during a crisis. At the same time, Ferreri believes companies are going out of their way to protect employees who would be difficult to be replaced throughout the supply chain, such as internal pattern designers, product managers and creative team members skilled in some key categories for the brand. He cited as examples those who are in charge of prints at Emilio Pucci or those in charge of knitwear at Missoni.
Ferreri emphasized how Italy’s web of family-owned companies may not easily react to unexpected emergencies. At such times, he contended, “you need managers with specific skills,” not family members who may be too self-referential, who may not be able to see opportunities as “they are not trained to think outside of the box. Family businesses are the most affected in this moment: in exceptional and difficult circumstances, in family business structures what is needed is a sense of discipline rather than creativity.
“Key positions in the future will change along with the business model: the more a brand will be able to change and evolve, the more the management will evolve with the brand,” said Ferreri, lamenting lackluster performances by a range of old-school managers. “I am hoping a new class of ceo’s will come on board. We have to bring on board skilled managers, new thinkers, with a fresh approach, ready to bank on their forces: for a new world and a new brand we need new methods and new brains.”