Interview with Bruno Nardelli and Stefano Abbati, LiuJo Luxury

Keeping with the family business tradition, Bruno Nardelli and his brother, Domenico, set up Nardelli Luxury, a jewellery trade and timepiece manufacturing company. After years of success in the industry and in an unconventional entrepreneurial move, Bruno founded a luxury branch of retail brand LiuJo under Nardelli Luxury and began distributing jewellery and watches around the world.

Bruno Nardelli proved himself to be an exceptional entrepreneur, expanding the brand exponentially since its establishment in 2006. Today, he is both part owner and creative director of LiuJo Luxury, driving the marque forward with his business partner and watch-industry veteran, Stefano Abbati. Tharawat sat with the two Italian gentlemen who eloquently explained their success, the market, and their vision for the future.

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You have sold millions of timepieces since launching LiuJo Luxury. How do you account for such growth?

Bruno: Our watches are accessories to apparel. Our accessories complete the fashion line, which is the origin of the brand. Our job is to tell a consistent brand story that complements the other LiuJo products, to transmit the same vision and message. That is what we did and what we continue to do.

What is the biggest challenge dealing with consumers in this digitally connected generation?

Bruno: The digital generation has considerably affected the watchmaking industry. I believe the watch will become more and more of a fashion item, since we have so many other ways of checking the time. It will serve a different function in the future. I also feel that the current generation is more fascinated with technological progress than future generations will be. They will be digital natives and might like to use products for their original purposes. They might even use watches to check the time.

When and why did the two of you decide to join forces?

Bruno: It came at the right time for the both of us. We were ready to do something together.

Stefano: We had known each other for many years and I had always admired Bruno’s strategic mindedness. I had been working for a multinational watch company for over ten years. When the occasion presented itself, we decided to work together. He brought me into the team when he felt the time was right. He is not the type of entrepreneur that suffers from the hubris of knowing everything. He does, however, know when it is time for change, which is vital to success in this business.

What does Italian design stand for today?

Stefano: Creativity!

Bruno: It is something you are born with! There is a sensibility for what is Italian.

Stefano: You could see a thousand people and still be able to pick out the Italians. It is an attitude and a competitive advantage recognised around the world.

Bruno: We have been successful at predicting the trends in design.

What is your creative process? When do you know that a new product is a risk worth taking?

Stefano: There is not just one formula for a successful product. You need to work to catch the signs from the market. We work together as a team to try to capture the trends. You must dare, know, experience, and, ultimately, you need a little luck on your side! All you can really do is be smart about positioning and minimise the risk. You need to be clear about the values you propose.

Bruno: You also need courage, the confidence to bring the market what it needs and to be consistent with your brand.

Stefano: Exactly! The market keeps giving us feedback. In recent years, it has become faster and more direct, thanks to the Internet and social media. We now look at feedback one week after product launch to assess success.

Bruno: Yes, there is immediate feedback. We try to engage our consumers through these online channels. We quickly understood that this medium is essential for keeping our consumers involved in the brand. They have to love the products, but should also feel like they are brand ambassadors.

Stefano: We are working to anticipate trends and not just respond to them. That is why feedback is so important. All responses, not just online reactions, are constructive and should be taken seriously. We have to work on creativity in every part of our value chain, especially shop windows. It is about communication with the customers at every level. When we are producing a product, we can never forget that.

Celebrity endorsement has become a much-used marketing tool in the luxury sector. Do you believe in this strategy?

Stefano: It is interesting and concerns a number of aspects that go beyond brand image. Nevertheless, it is still very important to find the right celebrity to represent your brand. The consumer must be able to identify with the celebrity you choose. You have to know your segment very well. If you find the right person, then the benefits can be exponential.

What is your vision for the future?

Bruno: We must take one-step at a time. The faster your business grows, the quicker it can fall. When you want to succeed, you must be consistent. If the economic crisis has taught us anything, it is the importance of creating timeless products. No matter what the price point is, you must create value for your consumer.

Tharawat Magazine, Issue 26, 2015