Lunelli with F1 president Stefano Domenicali

Ferrari Trento plans global expansion after Formula One deal

12 March, 2021

Drinks International caught up with Ferrari Trento chief executive Matteo Lunelli to learn more about the brand’s new Formula One sponsorship deal.

Ferrari Trento has signed a three-year agreement to serve as the podium partner for Formula One, meaning it will feature prominently in the celebrations after each Grand Prix. What made you choose Formula One?

One thing we really appreciate about the partnership is the fact that it’s a global platform. Ferrari is incredibly well known in Italy. We are the authentic Italian luxury sparkling wine. But worldwide we still have a lot of room to grow in terms of recognition and sales, so the global platform gives us an opportunity for us to jump to the next step.

We really share values with Formula One – innovation, passion and the search for excellence in every detail. This is something that has been strongly linked to our brand since our founder created it over a century ago. It’s a perfect partnership.

It’s an exciting moment. We are extremely proud of this announcement, which has been a dream for a long time. I have a large passion for Formula One.

It is the first time for an Italian sparkling wine to be [represented] in the most iconic moment in sport. It is a recognition of Ferrari Trento as brand, for its international profile, and in addition it’s a recognition of the values of Italian excellence, which we always want to promote and be ambassadors of.

Do you have trade plans to ramp up sales in the various cities that will host Grands Prix this year?

There are five markets where we already have a presence and Formula One can help us enhance it – U.S., Japan, Germany, Russia and the UK. We think that Formula One can help us to grow our presence. For example, in the UK we are still really under-represented. Italian sparkling is mostly Prosecco in the UK and Ferrari is under-represented. We recently started a new distribution agreement with Bibendum.

Unfortunately it has been an incredibly complicated situation and we could not really start to implement our commercial strategy, because it would not make sense in the middle of a pandemic, but as soon as the trade environment becomes more stable, we have a very special opportunity to grow in the UK. Then we still have a very small and limited presence in the rest of Asia outside Japan, and we hope that our partnership with Formula One can help us grow there.

Does this deal with Formula One represent a signal of your confidence in the market’s ability to recover over the next 12 months?

We made this big investment because we think the market will cover and conviviality will come back. We are a family business, and in winemaking it’s very important to have a long-term perspective. We look at the next generation. I think the next generation of my family will look back and think that this partnership has been very important for the future of the brand.

It’s not something we do for the next three years. It’s something we believe will have a long-term impact on our winery. We were able to take an opportunity in these difficult times. The market environment is very challenging in the short-term, but we believe conviviality will come back and we believe in our brand. 

Ferrari started from the dream of our founder. I think he would be incredibly proud, and my grandfather who acquired the winery from him would also be very proud to think that Ferrari is now a part of this amazing, iconic, important celebration.

How has Ferrari Trento performed during the difficult trading conditions of the past year?

It is a complex time. It’s difficult for everyone. We have a strong relationship with bars and restaurants worldwide, so we are suffering during the pandemic. Our sales are mostly into restaurants, bars, hotels and clubs, so it has not been an easy period for us.

We are coming from five consecutive years of record after record growth. It was going incredibly well. Now we have a small decline, because of Covid, but we took the decision to embark on this project because we are convinced that conviviality will soon come back. We will all be willing to toast together again soon. We still believe in the potential of our plan to grow worldwide, and we still believe in the dream of our founder.

You are the president of Altagamma, an association that links all the high-end brands in Italy. How has the group reacted to the difficult trading conditions of the past year?

It has been a very intense, unique time, but I have appreciated that all our brands are companies were looking to be united. In these difficult times, the reaction of brands has been to work together to react to this pandemic.

The pandemic has impacted the luxury goods sector. We estimate that on average we have seen a 20% decline of luxury brands in 2020. In 2021, there’s going to be a recovery, but it will not get us back to 2019 [levels].

But as much as the luxury goods sector has been impacted by the pandemic, we think that it now it can be an engine for the restart of the economy. Luxury is one of the first to be impacted by a crisis, but it is one of the first to react positively as soon as there is a recovery.

We have been working together to establish a dialogue and create a recovery fund, which must be invested in the appropriate way, as an instrument to make reforms and restart the economy.

We think it’s very important for Italy and Europe in general to lead the renaissance of the [luxury goods] economy. In Europe, the sector can be the engine for the recovery. Europe is the centre of this sector. Many other sectors have their centre of gravity in the U.S. or China, but Europe is the centre of gravity for the luxury goods sector. It’s the leading continent. In this recovery it’s going to be very important.

Are you expecting a more competitive Formula One season this time around due to the rule changes? Do you think your namesake, the Ferrari team, has a chance of success? 

We hope so. We all look forward to having more competition in the races. That makes it more fun. We will see. It’s a unique time. The biggest changes will be in 2022, which is when we will see the real revolution in terms of cars and the more dramatic rule changes. It’s always difficult at the beginning, before we see the first races, to make predictions. For us, it’s certainly going to be a very special season. We look forward to it, and to being a part of the celebration on the podium.

First of all, I am a fan of Formula One, and I hope that the best drivers will win. We will be part of the celebrations with all the teams. But as an Italian, I have a very special link to Ferrari. It’s close to my heart. We have the same name, and Ferrari is a special  team. What is great about Formula One is that all the teams are incredibly committed to getting better each year. The closer you get to it, the more you realise that behind each car is an immense amount of people, passion, research and innovation, and it’s really incredible.

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