Pampani from Ovs to Douglas: «First in Italy in beauty»

His native land is Campania, but his professional homeland is Veneto. She still has a home in Jesolo and her children studied at Ca’ Foscari. «Veneto is my true second home and the place where the world of retail has experienced great success stories and innovation».

When Fabio Pampani met Vittorio Coin, one of the great innovators of Italian retail, he was a boy. He remained in the company founded by the Venetian family and which later became the main Italian clothing retail group, for twenty-three years. He has witnessed the growth of Ovs, the Standa and Upim operations, climbing the entire hierarchical ladder.

Entering clerk and exiting general manager. Pampani, today is number one of Douglas in Italy and from 2021 of the Douglas South Europe division, which sees the unification of the Italy, Spain and Portugal branches. It is the first chain of perfumeries in the country with a strong gap in terms of total turnover compared to the other players (Sephora, LL Pinalli and Marionnaud). Globally, the Group, based in Düsseldorf, has a turnover of 3.65 billion euros and has 85% of the shareholding structure since 2016 by the CVC private equity fund and 15% by the Kreke family, with a presence in 19 countries and 1,800 shops around the world.

«We are the first beauty retail chain – Pampani gives the dimensions of the business – we are twice the size of our competitor. A company that has 370 shops and 3,000 employees in Italy, a turnover of 394 million, over 50,000 products in the sales channels». In the first quarter of the new fiscal year 2022/23 (October to December 2022), Douglas significantly increased its net sales to 1.44 billion euros, a notable increase of more than 11%, driven by a Christmas period of great success. Net income of €126.7 million grew 79% year-over-year. At the basis of success in a competitive segment massacred by the pandemic and closures, the group has consolidated its omnichannel activity. In-store sales, in particular, have increased significantly by more than 12% as customer demand for expert advice and the personal shopping experience soars after the pandemic. The online business also continued to grow (+9%) and once again represented over a third of the Group’s total sales.

“We are witnessing unexpected growth, none of us imagined that the market could have trends of this nature – explains Pampani”. These are, he specifies, extraordinary numbers for the whole sector which show growth both in the physical channel and for e-commerce, with a now evident phenomenon of transfer from one channel to another and vice versa, there is no longer anyone who use only the physical or only the online in purchases. «Digital sales have experienced this exponential growth as we know during the lockdowns, expanding the beauty audience towards younger and less young people and in fact our turnover in e-commerce is 4 times that of 2019 and has doubled every year. But while the physical market was at a standstill, we did not see a proportional loss ».

The Douglas model, which in Italy made the leap in market share with the acquisition of Limoni and La Gardenia in Italy in 2017, continued its expansion also in Europe with the acquisition of Bodybell and Perfumerías IF in Spain. A strong scheme of exclusives, the Chiara Ferragni and Kylie line by Kylie Jenner, «more than 30 percent of our turnover is made up of our exclusives. Therefore the strength of Douglas is expressed in the uniqueness of the offer and in the services » she explains. Among these, the model of beauty lounges, wellness centres, in the Douglas network there are about fifty, and collateral services, from make-up to nails.

“This means having real professionals in the shops, for us it means having 150 beauticians hired as employees, for example, and providing training in one of the most beautiful jobs in the world,” explains Pampani.

Finally, there is the physical presence, which for Douglas follows the hybrid model, 50% historic centers and 50% large selected malls. From now on, the widespread presence in Italy will concentrate the new openings on top locations in modern shopping centers or in historic city centres. Despite the numbers, business development and future plans, Pampani is not optimistic about the retail sector.

«The retail trade is the first employer in Italy, yet we do not see attention towards our sector. We are the only European country that does not have a degree program in Retail. The store manager which is one of the most beautiful jobs in the world is not included in training as a career path. There is only one Master in Retail in Italy and it is in Veneto. We are not only saints, poets, navigators, we are also traders».

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