28th February 2017  

U-Start Team carried out an exclusive interview with Daniele Pini, CFO&COO at Pinko.

Daniele Pini was born in 1977 and graduated in 2001 studying Economics at Parma University. In 2012, he followed the Corporate Finance Executive program at SDA Bocconi. From 2001 to 2004, Daniele Pini has worked as Senior Auditor for KPMG, one of the Big Four accounting and consulting firms. In 2005, he started working at Pinko becoming CFO of the company in 2010. As Pinko CFO & COO, since April 2016 Daniele Pini has successfully been participating in ELITE program launched by Borsa Italiana and London Stock Exchange. ELITE is a program designed to help SMEs prepare and structure for the next stage of growth through the access to long-term financing opportunities. Moreover, Daniele Pini is a Board Member of six companies.

After a 3 years’ experience in KPMG, you joined Pinko. Why did you decide to work in the fashion industry?

During my experience at KPMG, I have had the chance to work with significant companies operating in several market sectors. What fascinated me most about the fashion industry is the bond between creative and intangible elements and complex industrial processes and procedures. Moreover, I believe that fashion is essential for Italian exports. It is such a privilege to be part of a Group that exports abroad “the design and made in Italy”.

You have been working at Pinko for over 10 years. Has the group configuration changed in this period of time? What about its international presence?

Thanks to its founders and management, the Company has constantly grown over the years. I must say Pinko international growth had an acceleration during the last few years: 2013 turnover was € 160 M while the 2016 turnover reached over € 195 M, half of which was abroad. Our goal is to reach a € 220 M turnover this current year 2017. Today the Pinko Group counts 18 Subsidiaries located in Europe, Asia and the U.S. We have 190 mono-brand stores and more than 1400 high-end multi-brand stores. The brand can be found in the most prestigious international department stores and in the main luxury streets including Milan, Paris and London. In 2016, we also opened flagship stores in Barcelona, Prague and New York.

Pinko defines itself as a “contemporary fashion brand”. How do you combine a market sector usually linked with tradition as fashion with concepts of innovation and contemporaneity?

The “High Contemporary” is well-known and internationally recognized market positioning. It includes fashion brands who sell high-quality products at affordable prices offering a great alternative to extremely expensive products sold by luxury brands. Innovation, together with Creativity and Italian Style, are Pinko’s key values. These values are expressed through perfected manufacturing processes combined with a high quality finish. Innovation permeates more aspects of the company’s life, from industrial processes to distribution channels.

Pinko both have stores in several cities and sell its products online. Are customers used to mainly doing their purchases online or in the physical stores?

Currently, incomes generated from physical stores are the main incomes for all fashion companies and I think this won’t change for many years. I believe that online shopping does not collide with the traditional shopping done in physical stores. Instead, it can encourage the development of a new kind of physical shopping. Many popular retailers, for example, are shifting their focus from basic transactions to offering compelling brand experiences and higher levels of personal service in stores. Moreover, social networks have become extremely  important and communication- investments have focused and are currently focusing on online channels and digital touchpoints. Today’s shoppers are inspired by lifestyle imagery on Instagram feeds and Snapchat stories. Customers use online channels to be familiar with the brand and obtain information about products. More than 50% of our customers navigate  Pinko’s website before purchasing in physical stores.

In your opinion, what will future purchasing trends be? Will physical retailers be abandoned in favor of online sellers?

I do not think the physical shopping experience will ever end in the future. It will probably come back to its roots when physical stores were kinds of "exhibition locations". Brands were used to express their values and identities through their stores. The role of physical stores is changing in customers’ mind, from a “warehouse” where they find products to a brand history extension. Retailers must provide an experiential retail environment, where shopping is more than a transaction and the pleasure of being in the store isn’t limited to the goods that customers take home. The model of throwing more stores, products, and discounts into the market is no longer working. Limited editions are becoming strategic for increasing sales. Selling smaller lines of products rather than letting a larger line linger into discounts is the smart way of doing business. Moreover, exclusivity will be a quite important value for the brand and the possibility to use multiple channels will allow fashion brands to reach their customers in several ways

First Pinko “hybrid shops” opened in 2013. Please, tell us more about this project. Why did you decide to launch it? What results has it brought since today?

Pinko and its founder Pietro Negra have been able to foresee shopping experience’s future trends. Hybrid Shops’ project allowed us to be globally the first to offer our customers a multi-channel experience that is also a successful combination of physical and digital elements. During the years, the Hybrid Shop experience has improved our performance, as we allowed our customers to visualize a product not available in physical stores but life-sized visibly on touch screen panels. This way you can explore the whole collection and discover variations, accessories, matching pieces and outfits.

Beyond the Hybrid Shop Experience, are you planning to launch, or have you already launched, other projects linked to the digital realm?

We work every day to gain competitive advantages through technology. I believe that IT plays a primary role in fashion companies whatever their competitive positioning in the market is. Technology influences all business processes, from supply chain to retail planning, from B2B to CRM. Our aim is to enrich the multi-channels experience already offered to our customers. We want to increase and improve the digital touchpoints and allow clients to enter in the PINKO world and thus increase the brand awareness. We also see the huge potential of predictive analysis and trust the importance of big data management applied to product trends and direct marketing.

As Pietro Negra declared, the company takes advantages of technology. Are there specific kinds of technologies that you reckon may have high potentials in the next future?  

In my opinion, we are now facing the era of predictive commerce. It is time for retailers to help people find products they need and above all predict customer needs. Some retail giants have already started using machine-learning algorithms to forecast demand and define prices. We should think as tech companies do, using learning algorithms not just to predict how to stock stores but also to dynamically recommend products and set prices that appeal to individual consumers. Acting this way requires managing massive data sets, which constantly change. They include purchasing history, product preferences, competitor prices, stock availability, competitors’ pricing, current and forecasted product demand. The point is to inspire customers and create desire before, during and after the purchasing process. In the future of retail, I see new commercial ecosystems made for specific individuals that mingle human relationships with digital storytelling.

How many stores have you opened in 2016 and where?

In 2016, we have continued to grow internationally opening 21 direct operating stores. We set up our business in the U.S. opening two flagship stores in New York (Madison Avenue and Soho). In the first quarter of 2017, we will open two more stores in Miami. We have also explored the Japanese market and in a few weeks, we will open a flagship store in Tokyo (Aoyama).

What are your expansion plans for the future?

We want to strengthen our positioning as a  High Contemporary Brand by keep on investing in quality, communication and processes innovation. Moreover, we will continue to invest in our international growth developing our Retail business model which must be always more consistent and aligned to market needs. Finally, we will invest in technological innovation, as I believe it is a source of great opportunities and can generate competitive advantages.