“In the beginning, we only sold our own brand,” explains Managing Director Alberto Bozzo. “Especially in the 1950s and 1960s the brand was very famous. We had many celebrity customers such as Ernest Hemingway or princes from the Arabian region. Then, the company started to invest in the luxury multi-brand sector. In fact, Al Duca d’Aosta was a pioneer in doing so as there were hardly any multibrand stores at that time. Over the years, we became one of the most famous multi-brand stores for luxury brands. As a result, our own brand Al Duca d’Aosta fell behind. Finally, it only contributes around 4% to our total business volume. Two years ago, we decided to reinvent the brand. Today, the distribution of luxury brands is a mass market. Therefore, the competition is high. Also, Al Duca d’Aosta is a great brand with a strong background. It would be a shame to lose it.”
Two years ago Al Duca d’Aosta started to create the first Al Duca d’Aosta collection again and opened up a new flagship store in Venice. At present, the brand focuses on men’s wear. Soon, the Italian fashion expert will launch its first ladies’ collection. All clothes are designed by Rodolfo Zappalà.
“In honour of our beginnings we called our first new collection “Venezia 1902”,” says Mr. Bozzo. “Our business was founded by Emilio Ceccato in Venice in 1902. All the photo shoots for the new collection took place in Venice, too, for example, on a gondola or in a local glass blowing factory, to emphasize the uniqueness of the brand. Already, we can say that the collection is a great success. We have received great feed-back and are already selling to clients abroad, via e-shops.”
At present, Al Duca d’Aosta unites a network of twelve shops nationwide–mostly in big cities – of which nine are multi-brand stores.
The company’s flagship store is located in Venice and focuses on the in-house brand Al Duca d’Aosta. “Soon, we will open up another mono-brand store, probably in Florence,” says the Managing Director.
In addition to these ten shops, the company also operates two shops selling the brand Emilio Ceccato. “With Emilio Ceccatto, we entered an exclusive agreement with the Venetian gondoliers’ association,” explains Mr. Bozzo. “Although the profession of gondolier is over 1,100 years old, it never had its own brand. We designed an exclusive brand for them – the Gondolieri brand. Also, we clothe all 433 gondoliers of Venice and draw on an exclusive global licence to sell Gondolieri fashion. In fact, the Venetian idea of gondoliers was transferred to several other regions, for example to the USA – to Texas, Florida and California. We would like to open up Gondolieri flagship stores for gondoliers’ fashion in Las Vegas and in Macao soon. Already, we sell the Gondolieri brand via our own e-platform www.emilioceccato.com.”
With roots dating back to 1902 when Emilio Ceccato opened up a small shop in Venice, the company is a true family business. At present, the third family generation President Tito Ceccato and Vice President Giuliano Ceccato are passing on the operative business to the fourth generation, Matteo Ceccato – Head of Operations, Alvise Cecatto – Head of Men’s Wear, and Cristiano Cecatto – Head of Women’s Wear.
Today, Al Duca d’Aosta has a staff of 120 and enjoys annual growth rates of around 30%. “Our in-house brand Al Duca d’Aosta and our Gondolieri brand sold by Emilio Ceccato will be the most important growth drivers in the coming years,” says Mr. Bozzo. “We will open up several Al Duca d’Aosta mono-brand stores abroad and invest in the international recognition of the brand. We would like to grow organically as well as with joint-venture partners. Currently, we are searching for new partners who are interested in our concept. Of course, we will also keep investing in our multi-brand stores. Still, they are an important mainstay of our business. Last year, we conducted training seminars with around 70 people from our stores in cooperation with a Vicenza based retail expert. The training sessions focused on customer psychology, personal shopping assistance and cross marketing via stores and our online shops. Customer satisfaction has always been high on our agenda and we will continue to invest in our customer service. At the end of the day, the customer is the benchmark for our success.”