How Pal Zileri plans to take over the Middle East

The brand's CEO, Paolo Roviera, on the company's reinvention, a new store in Qatar and avoiding pitfalls.

April 13, 2016

About 15 years ago, Paolo Roviera was given his big break into the fashion world thanks to Pal Zileri.

A student who had only just completed his master’s degree, he then went on to achieve greater things, the highlight being as regional head at Ermenegildo Zegna EMEA. 

As if to complete the circle, Roviera returned to Pal Zileri as CEO last year. EDGAR caught up with him while he was in Dubai to re-launch Pal Zileri’s new identity at its Mall of the Emirates store.

What inspired the change in the brand’s identity and store? 

Pal Zileri already had a great history. It was a company with a strong know-how and huge growth opportunities, it just needed to be revitalized and updated. 

To achieve these goals we take inspiration from our philosophy, which we call Avant Craft: a synthesis of fierce loyalty to cultural roots combined with an experimental avant-garde vision, which embraces the whole Pal Zileri world. 

What is the brand’s new direction and positioning? 

Our intention is to get the brand back among the top five players of our segment, aspirational luxury: which means a very high level but not the one of absolute luxury.

Why is the EMEA region appealing to Pal Zileri?

I would say Pal Zileri and the Middle East are appealing to each other because they are in the right stage of their life to find a good connection.

Both of them are dynamic and continuously in evolution and on both sides there is a great interest for new experimentations and the research of what is beautiful yet well made. We are planning a new store opening in Qatar with the new concept soon.

What is Pal Zileri’s strategy for the future? 

We do foresee a steady growth in terms of turnover and number of doors in the next three years. We plan to reach total of 50 stores in 2016. No revolutionary changes are in mind, though; continuing on promoting our Made in Italy brand highlighting its traditional know how and the new contemporary language.

What horizontal expansion plans do you have for the brand? 

We are paying a great attention in redeveloping our distribution network, which today counts 37 flagship stores and is carried in over 500 multi-brand shops worldwide. This is especially true for the main target markets we are focusing on. Apart from the US market, our business is titled toward Europe, Russia and of course the Middle East.

What are the typical pitfalls for a fashion brand? 

I think a common possible error in similar cases is to forget what made you great in the past. It is always good to value what you have. In our case, we kept in mind (and after two years we still do) that a relaunch is not building a totally new brand. Our past, our know-how is a fundamental part of our backbone.