Good afternoon, everyone. I am Carlo Tunioli, President of Benetton USA and Board Member of GEI. Unfortunately, our president, Dr. Lucio Caputo, is unable to attend the luncheon today, so he has asked me to present his speech on his behalf.
I am very pleased to welcome to GEI, Mr. Claudio Del Vecchio, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Brooks Brothers Group, and Executive Director of Luxottica Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of eyewear.
As a young child, he helped his father in the Luxottica eyeglass factory in Agordo, Italy, learning virtually every area of manufacturing, from eyeglass parts to machinery parts, from manual labor to management. At the age of 24, Mr. Del Vecchio established Luxottica’s first direct distribution organization outside of Italy, in Germany. The great success of the new German distribution operation provided the blueprint for Luxottica’s direct distribution network worldwide.
Mr. Del Vecchio came to the United States in 1982, and was instrumental in transforming Luxottica into the premier factory-direct eyewear organization in the United States. He would later serve as the president of the Optical Industry Association.
In 1995, through Luxottica’s purchase of The United States Shoe Corporation, the company acquired Lenscrafters, the largest optical retailer in the U.S., and Casual Corner Group stores, a retail chain specializing in women’s clothing. Mr. Del Vecchio assumed ownership of Casual Corner Group in 1997. After acquiring Adrienne Vittadini and Carolee Designs in early 2001, Casual Corner Group was renamed Retail Brand Alliance, Inc.
Then in December 2001, Retail Brand Alliance acquired Brooks Brothers.
In 2005, in order to focus on Retail Brand Alliance in the luxury market, the company dismantled Casual Corner Group and in 2006 divested its holdings in Adrienne Vittadini.
Claudio Del Vecchio has also been recognized for his philanthropic work with numerous organizations, including the Helen Keller Services for the Blind, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the American-Italian Cancer Foundation.
He has received many awards and recognitions during the span of his career. In 1997, Mr. Del Vecchio was honored with the World Economic Forum Award as “Global Leader for Tomorrow.” In 2003, he was named “Business Person of the Year” by the Hartford Business Journal, as well as “Man of the Year” by The International Association of Clothing Designers & Executives.
He was recently honored by Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, and received the degree of Doctor of Business Administration, honoris causa, with all its rights and privileges. He was saluted for his great accomplishments in the world of commerce and for his involvement and generosity to an array of good causes.
I am therefore very pleased to welcome Claudio Del Vecchio and to present him on behalf of GEI with the “GEI FRIENDSHIP AWARD” in recognition of his many achievements.
The luncheon was held on July 10, 2012 in the Stella Private Room of Le Cirque restaurant in New York City.