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Introduction by: Peter Marshall

In another first for, I am delighted to feature an interview this week with Omar Hagi, Global Head of Centralized Channels, Kering Eyewear. The business has been going from strength to strength over the years and its dynamic growth strategy continues, combining acquisition, design, technology and innovation across all its brands. Maui Jim is a perfect example. 

Peter Marshall (PM):  Omar, welcome to 2024 is a big year for Kering Eyewear and for its latest acquisition, the iconic Maui Jim. This brand adds to your A list of stellar brands, which includes LINDBERG, Zeal Optics, Gucci, Cartier, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Chloé, Alexander McQueen, Montblanc, Dunhill, Alaïa and Puma.

Now Kering Eyewear has stated that this first collection for Maui Jim since the acquisition is a pivotal moment for the brand’s global refresh. How so?

Omar Hagi (OH): When we acquired Maui Jim in 2022, the brand was the world’s largest independent sunglasses company in the market, the ultimate outdoor sunglasses brand, sharing with Kering Eyewear an unparalleled attention to product quality and a tendency towards design and innovation. Maui Jim was perfectly complementary to the luxury and fashion brands already in our portfolio.

Over the past few months, we have worked on a rebranding process, which has touched upon all available levers –  from product to communication to distribution. The goal is to transform Maui Jim into an international brand that also appeals to a younger audience, positioning itself in the lifestyle/outdoor segment and increasing brand awareness in the countries where the brand is not yet that well known, while keeping the actual client base, who already know the extraordinary quality of Maui Jim lenses. 

PM: In February of this year you launched the first collection design by Kering Eyewear, Collection ‘Ekahi. How have retailers taken to this launch and do you think this has  given you permission to expand in global Travel Retail?

OH: When Kering Eyewear took over Maui Jim, it was a brand mainly focused on North America, with styles specifically designed for this consumer base.

With Collection ‘Ekahi, the first by Kering Eyewear (‘Ekahi means “one” in Hawaiian), for sure we managed to re-think the original design, always keeping in mind what makes Maui Jim great – the lens technology. With a thoughtful and cohesive approach, Collection ‘Ekahi is set to appeal to a global audience with contemporary designs that will allow us to expand upon European and Asian demographics. Specifically, it introduces styles designed to guarantee the perfect fit with maximum comfort for  Asian customers.

So, I would say that for sure this new collection is helping us in the discussions with  clients, especially where the brand has a lower brand awareness. We are also putting in place marketing plans to sustain all the markets, including Travel Retail, with a new advertising campaign that has been recently presented, strong media plans and partnerships, and a new brand identity in store that recalls the origins of the brand on the beaches of Maui.

PM:  You just mentioned the expansion of the brand in the Asia Pacific region. Do you have any special plans for Travel Retail there?

OH: Undoubtedly, our new collection and innovative marketing tools will serve as powerful drivers to boost the Travel Retail business in the region. We have ambitious plans for 2024, marking a significant year for us as we establish our brand presence in these markets.

In the region, we will capitalize on Kering Eyewear’s strong partnerships and the trust we’ve built over the years by consistently delivering on our promises to our partners. A major focus will be on revitalizing the brand in China, a unique market with a high demand for immersive activities. We’ve recently launched an Experience Zone in Haitang Bay Block C, Sanya, Hainan, featuring a surf-arcade experience and a gelato bar, and we have more exciting activations planned throughout the summer. 

PM: I believe that the aim to expand to Asia Pacific, as you mentioned, is also linked with the news that has just been shared – an ambassador specifically dedicated to the Asia Pacific region. Please tell us more. 

OH: Yes exactly, as one of the main objectives for the brand is the geographic expansion, especially in Asia, Kering Eyewear partnered up with Mika Hashizume, as the new face of Maui Jim’s contemporary style and refreshed image in Asia Pacific. This choice marks a pivotal moment in the brand’s strategy to refresh its image and expand its global reach, captivating a new consumer base, and Mika will for sure help the brand in resonating among Chinese and Asia Pacific younger consumers.

PM:  The 2023 financial results were impressive. Just how much has Maui Jim contributed to the growth of the company?

OH: The new expansion of the brand – both in terms of target consumer and geographies – will, for sure, be the key to growth in this business.

2023 has been another record year for Kering Eyewear, as the company hit €1.5 billion revenue, up 35% as reported, benefiting from the consolidation of Maui Jim together with the excellent development of all the brands in the portfolio as well as  the acquisition of UNT (Usinage & Nouvelles Technologies).

Travel Retail is experiencing solid growth, recovering after the Pandemic years. It is a pivotal channel for Kering Eyewear and we look forward to seeing how Maui Jim will perform within the Kering Eyewear brand mix –  especially in Asia Pacific, where it is a new entry.

 PM: This year  also marks a very milestone for Kering Eyewear, as it’s the 10th anniversary of the company. What do you think has changed and what, on the other hand, has remained the same?


OH: In only 10 years, the company has enjoyed incredible expansion, becoming a global organization. In 2014 there were only 4 people, while today Kering Eyewear counts more than 4.000 talented employees all over the world. And it has been able to achieve and deliver on its mission: we are now the world leader in luxury high-end eyewear and the second largest eyewear company in the world.

While these are certainly extraordinary results, we remain focused on improving our performances every day to keep offering the best products and the highest level of service to all our clients around the world, to further consolidate our position in the markets and channels where we are already strong, while also exploiting the potential of any untapped areas.

I believe that Travel Retail is a crucial channel for advancing in this direction, as it enables us to explore innovations and test new ideas and approaches. Our mantra is innovation, quality, and impeccable in-store execution. We will continue to foster this and raise the bar even further.

PM: Well, talking about the retail environment, I really like the look of your Digital Retail Concept. Please tell us more about this intriguing development of yours. 

Kering Eyewear’s Digital Retail Concept (DRC) setups are present in the most exclusive venues worldwide on both domestic and Travel Retail locations. We have now installed almost 70 digital retail areas worldwide, covering more than 600 sqm, the majority of which in Travel Retail locations. 

Since we are in Singapore, I’m sure you will visit the newly opened store in Changi Airport T2, in partnership with Lagardère, on your flight back from TFWA. 

PM: One final question, Omar.  If there are three things that you want to communicate to the global travel retail industry, what would they be?

OH: The first three principles that come to mind may seem basic, but they are essential for success.

Firstly, don’t hesitate to be audacious. I would encourage the travel retail industry to embrace newness and innovation as the keys to exploring fresh and successful business approaches.

Secondly, adopt a consumer-centric approach. We must always remember our end consumer and strive to create offerings that resonate with them. The market and its consumers increasingly value uniqueness and appreciate engaging experiences – especially in travel retail.

Lastly, embrace digitalization. We must believe in the power of innovation and working collaboratively to shape the future retail experience in this channel.

Peter Marshall

Founder: Arts
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