Leonardo Del Vecchio died. The founder of Luxottica and president of EssilorLuxottica, 87, passed away on Monday morning at the San Raffaele in Milan where he had been hospitalized in intensive care for several weeks after pneumonia.
True prince of Italian entrepreneurship, Leonardo Del Vecchio was not one by birthright. Quite the contrary: in a country where family capitalism is still deeply rooted, Del Vecchio asserts himself with the fabric of the Anglo-Saxon self-made man.
The emperor grew up in an orphanage: this is how Del Vecchio learned to make his own
The founder of Luxottica was born in Milan on 22 May 1935 from a family of Apulian origin; orphan of his father still very young, he is entrusted by his mother to the Martinitt school where he remains until he graduates from middle school. At the age of 15 he goes to work as a boy at Johnson, a factory that produces medals and cups. The owners of the factory pushed him to enroll in evening courses at the Brera Academy to study design and engraving. Del Vecchio leaves the factory where he learned the trade and discovered his passion for ‘creating’ and opens a small shop in Agordo, in the province of Belluno.
Within just three years the shop became Luxottica, a manufacturer of semi-finished products for other manufacturers who then assemble the finished glasses, with 14 employees and soon an excellent reputation. In 1967 Del Vecchio decided to take the plunge and began producing his own line of eyewear under the Luxottica brand: the business grew more and more and expanded into the US market. Since 1995 Luxottica has been the largest producer and distributor on the world optical market (cult brands such as Ray Bans belong to the group): first the listing arrives in New York then in December 2000 in Milan. Gradually until the merger with the French Exilor which brings the vertically integrated group to the top of the sector globally.
The stature of Del Vecchio, the richest man in Italy for Forbes, as a capable and ‘enlightened’ entrepreneur is nourished by decisions such as that of giving away 40 thousand shares for his 80 years, with a total value of about 9 million euros, to 8 thousand Italian employees of the group. Already in 2011, for Luxottica’s 50th anniversary, employees were assigned free shares for a total value of 7 million euros. A separate chapter deserves the hereditary succession closely linked to the private life of the founder of Luxottica who has six children: Claudio (at the head of the Brooks Brothers group), Marisa and Paola, born from the first marriage with Luciana Nervo; Leonardo Maria, with his second wife Nicoletta Zampillo, from whom Del Vecchio separated but then remarried; Luca and Clemente, born from the relationship with Sabina Grossi, former investor relator of the group.