By Megha Merani
Recently appointed as Pirelli's General Manager for the Middle East region, Alberico Avogadro talks about his approach to driving growth and safeguarding corportate culture at the Italian luxury tyremaker
What are your plans for the region?
Service, service and more service.
In the UAE, where successful responses to the demands of luxury consumers are defined by services, Pirelli is seeking world-class retail partners offering experiences that exceed expectations.
We recently opened the first P Zero World in the region, on Hessa Street in Dubai, our flagship store. Service is not only a facade but is a matter of quality, machinery and availability. The perfect fit requires dedication to the customer by anticipating their needs. We are preparing ourselves for Expo 2020 by investing in new shops (static and mobile) for a comprehensive service to both consumers and fleets.
Last but not least, our most dynamic customers can count on many track activities such as the famous P Zero Experience at our partner circuits, Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi and Dubai Autodrome. The purpose of these events is to give our customers a deeper understanding of what the P Zero family is about and what the Trofeo is capable of.
What are the trends unique to this market compared with other markets?
It is rare to have such a high-end car park condensed in a rather small geographical area. Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah have an amazing concentration of prestige cars, a huge number of automotive connoisseurs. There is also an important community of car collectors with extremely rare technological jewels. The natural pull through effect of all these prestigious brands attracts an important number of premium brands. We witness a kind of race to have the better car.
Consequently, I would say that the UAE is the best playground for Pirelli where the P Zero is by far the bestseller product and where we can offer the outstanding service level expected by our very demanding customers.
What are the current market conditions?
As far as the UAE macro indicators are concerned, it seems that this year, GDP will accelerate its growth thanks to government spending. Despite this forecast, we should not underestimate the challenges ahead. Expo 2020 will mark the general recovery thanks to the huge investments and millions of expected visitors.
The automotive industry remains sluggish, but the tyre business does not seem to be affected as the need for mobility keeps going. The lower-end of the tyre market is affected by reduction in quality as some consumers are attracted by lower prices, but thanks to local regulations (GSO), safety should be maintained. Safety is paramount and we therefore recommend end users ensure the tyres they purchase are fitted with the GSO labels and have all the necessary warranties.
Given the conditions, what are the major challenges facing Pirelli?
We believe there are market conditions that do not affect activities in the same way in relation to product strategy and brand positioning. We at Pirelli think that challenging environments are an opportunity to build a stronger future, exploiting solid resources such as our products and our brand and always guaranteeing the highest level of service by exceeding the consumer expectations.
Pirelli is known for its premium strategy, leveraging on the solid OE-partnership with the foremost car manufacturers. The high-end segment is the fastest growing segment in the tyre industry. None of our competitors are as strong as us in this segment; more than 50 percent of prestigious car brands, including Ferrari, Porsche, Maserati, Bentley, Lamborghini and McLaren are fitted with Pirelli as original equipment. Each one of those brands has a dedicated product, a so-called “marked tyre”.
Moreover, Pirelli has a competitive advantage on technological “specialties” such as the runflat, the self-sealing, the elect tyres (recently launched for hybrid and electric high-performance cars), as well as the Pirelli ‘smart tyre’, which communicates directly with the vehicle to provide the best riding experience for end-users. All these assets are the pillars of our strategy, a kind of antidote to external conditions.
How would you describe your management style?
I think I understand people, the way they are or the way they pretend to be and I accept them. I make them feel at ease, and I speak their “language”. I count enormously in the reciprocity of mutual respect and trust. Finally, I give my very best when I meet politeness, ethics and intelligence. Whoever I have in front of me, I will always offer the most comfortable chair of my office.
What tips and advice do you have for those pursuing excellence in management?
Michele Ferrero, a famous Italian entrepreneur, used to say: “When you speak with an individual, remember: He is also important”.
I always bring with me some of his principles: Dedicate enough time to colleagues and not the “crumbs”, listen to what they have to say and do not give them the impression that you are on the thorns. Never make them feel “small”.
Take clear decisions and get help from your colleagues, they will believe in the choices they have made.
Make your colleagues aware of the changes and discuss with them before the implementation. If you do not believe in these principles, renounce to become a leader.
What is your approach to organisational culture?
After 23 years at Pirelli, we cannot talk anymore about organisational culture, but of a “mission”. A mission that has taken me to almost 10 different countries across the different continents. I have encountered many different languages, cultures and approaches but only one strong organisational culture.