Leonardo Del Vecchio (born 22 May 1935) is an Italian billionaire businessman, the founder and chairman of Luxottica,. the world’s largest producer and retailer of glasses and lenses, with 77,734 employees and over 7,000 stores. As of January 2018, Del Vecchio was estimated by Forbes to have a net worth of $21.9 billion, making him the second richest man in Italy, and the 47th richest in the world.
Leonardo Del Vecchio was born in 1935 in Milan, Italy, to an impoverished family from Barletta, Southern Italy. He began his career as an apprentice to a tool and die maker in Milan, but decided to turn his metalworking skills to make spectacle parts. So in 1961 he moved to Agordo in the province of Belluno, which is home to most of the Italian eyewear industry. The new company was Luxottica s.a.s., a limited partnership. In 1967, he started selling complete eyeglass frames under the Luxottica brand, and in 1971 he entered the contract manufacturing business. In 1974, he acquired Scarrone, a distribution company. In 1981 the company set up its first international subsidiary, in Germany. the first in a rapid period of international expansion. The first of many licensing deals with a designer was struck with Armani, in 1988. The company listed in New York in 1990, and in Milan in December 2000, joining the MIB-30 (now S&P/MIB) index in September 2003. The listing enhanced the company’s ability to acquire other brands, starting with Italian brand Vogue in 1990, Persol and US Shoe Corporation (LensCrafters) in 1995, Ray-Ban in 1999 and Sunglass Hut, Inc. in 2001. They went looking for more retail companies, acquiring Sydney-based OPSM in 2003, Pearle Vision in 2004, Surfeyes in 2006, and Cole National in 2004. Most recently, they acquired Oakley in a US$2.1bn deal in November 2007. Oakley had tried to dispute their prices because of Luxottica’s large market share, and Luxottica responded by dropping Oakley from their stores, causing their stock price to drop, followed by Luxottica’s hostile take over of the company. In August 2011, Luxottica acquired Erroca for €20 million. In March 2014, it was announced that Luxottica would partner with Google on the development of Google Glass and its integration into Luxottica’s eyewear. On 1 September 2014, a new organizational structure was announced, composed of two co-CEOs, one focusing on market development and the other overseeing corporate functions. After the exit of former CEO Andrea Guerra, Enrico Cavatorta was appointed CEO of Corporate Function and Interim CEO of Market (until new and permanent appointment to this role). Enrico Cavatorta left the company 40 days after being appointed CEO. In 2016, it was reported that Luxottica had lost its third chief executive in a year and a half as Adil Mehboob-Khan stepped down a year after he replaced Cavatorta. In January 2017, the company agreed on a merger with Essilor. The deal will also help to offer a succession plan for Leonardo Del Vecchio, the company’s founder. On October 1st 2018 the new holding company Essilor Luxottica is born, resulting in combined market capitalization of approximately €57 billion. In August 2018, Luxottica restored Accademia Bridge in Venice. Del Vecchio is married, with six children, and lives in Milan. He has one son, Claudio Del Vecchio, and two daughters with his first wife, two sons with his second wife, and one son with his third wife. He remarried his second wife in 2010. Claudio Del Vecchio has been called his “heir apparent”, and owns the American clothing retailer Brooks Brothers