The Moodie Davitt Report brings you the latest instalment in our popular series Ten Easy Pieces*, in which we get up close and personal with leading travel retail personalities via ten snapshot questions.

In this edition we meet fast-talking, fast-walking Essilor Vice President Asia Pacific & Oceania & Global Travel Retail Francesco Leccisi.

1. Tell us about Francesco Leccisi. Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Italy, in the very south in one of the most spectacular regions, Puglia, where sunglasses are a must-wear, people are funny and life goes slow!

My childhood was sun, beaches, having fun with friends and playing soccer. I am from a typical Italian family; many relatives, a lot of happenings around festivities, and since I was very young I cultivated, with my family, the passion to travel and explore the world. I remember in particular a couple of tours with our family camper, travelling from the south of Italy to North Cape in Norway, about 4,000 km😃.

Puglia: “Where sunglasses are a must-wear, people are funny and life goes slow”

2.You studied law at the Luiss Guido Carli University in Rome. What were your plans after graduation?

I graduated in law and had a lot of fun studying what many may consider a ‘boring’ discipline. At the same time, I learned a lot at the university and from there managed to create the basis of my career.

However, I always thought about becoming a good sales manager. In fact, during my studies I remember I had the chance to do some sales in department stores and shopping malls and really test my commercial skills.

At one stage I was a sales rep for the Auchan Hypermarket, working in the sports department and selling bicycles to consumers. It was a great experience; sales results were strong, great learnings and really a funny time.

There I understood my life… and my passion for the ‘commercial’ life.

Francesco is an avid supporter of the Italian national football team and doesn’t miss World Cup matches

3. Let’s look at your involvement with UNESCO as a volunteer. What sparked that interest and where did it lead you?

One of my best friends was actively participating in UNESCO initiatives and invited me to some events. I became really passionate about the organisation. One day stands out; a Sunday event in Rome. There was a lot of rain – one of the few days in Italy when you have rain in spring time – but it was funny, engaging and very interesting.

One of the best initiatives was to help raise funds for the conservation and restoration of the Italian cultural heritage. In fact our heritage is huge and many areas in Italy need conservation work and support. I believe helping to maintain heritage is one of the missions any good citizen has to have in their agenda.

I now have many friends at UNESCO and everywhere I travel I try to connect and see what’s happening.

4. What about your early career which included fashion, management consultancy and cosmetics?

The start of my career was possibly the best time of my life. I worked with Deloitte (a multinational professional services firm) as a consultant and that provided the foundation for preparing projects and plans with the right discipline and strategic direction. Within just a few years I had the chance to live in Milan, Hong Kong and Dubai and to experience a blend of cultures.

The dream to become an international manager was founded!

5. Tell us about your move into travel retail and involvement with Campari and Illva Saronno?

When I joined the Campari Group as Regional Director for Europe in 2006 I had the privilege to work in the FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) market; speed, execution and a sparkling industry! It suited me.

Campari Group was an excellent school and I thoroughly enjoyed my work there. Two years in Monte Carlo, two years in Miami: what more could you want from life?

At that time (from 2006) travel retail was already fascinating. You could feel the vibes and the energy around you but it was yet to be structured as it is today. I remember working towards an activation in the UK and it was just great seeing my bottles of Campari and Aperol in London Heathrow, a fantastic experience and commercial achievement!

Campari days with former colleagues Pietro Mattioni and Nicola Bini

6. Sunglasses and eyewear: first with Safilo and now with Essilor. What are your thoughts on eyewear in travel retail? How much has it changed and how do you see the category in five years’ time?

I love eyewear, I love the category and I love the industry! It’s all about energy, passion and building something that is taking shape, just right now. And you can feel it every day, in any store on the planet.

Essilor is a fantastic company, so international, so diversified and with a lot of ambition. At Essilor I am still learning a lot and having so much fun but I also admire the company’s “improving lives, by improving sights” mission”.

In fact enabling people to see better and giving poor people access to vision are just a couple of the pillars of the company and I feel these values are so close to my own way of living.

Eyewear is changing dynamically every day and you see around a lot of new and fascinating brands gaining momentum and taking the consumer’s mind. Look at our Bolon brand. In five years it has gone from Asia to the world. You can find Bolon in every city in Europe, Asia and the USA and the travel retail channel helped us so much to establish the brand.

In five years’ time I see the eyewear industry changing again and again, with a lot of technology coming into it, a lot of new trends revolutionising the category. What we are seeing now is just the beginning.

7. Can you describe one unforgettable highlight of your career to date… and any lows?

When Campari offered me the role of Regional Director for Europe in Monte Carlo I was so happy. I remember that I was so excited that I couldn’t drive the car back to Milan. I had to stop on the highway for a couple of hours!

Many lows have occurred. It’s not easy to travel, work and live a normal life, trying to keep all the pieces together. But that’s part of the game.

Combining two passions: Francesco with his wife Agata at one of his favourite tennis events

8. Have you ever estimated how many days you spend travelling in a year? How do you spend your time on the go?

I travel about 100 days per year, and when I am on the plane I try to sleep or to watch some sports channel or live TV.

Everywhere I go I take my tennis racket with me. I try to play early in the morning and later in the afternoons. I love tennis; it makes me feel active and engaged. My favourite player is Rafael Nadal; since watching him live in Paris a long time ago I have kept him as a good idol.

My other passion is the Italian national football team. Every World Cup I am there to support them; on the good and bad days😉.

9. Fast cars… are they a passion or an interest?

I love fast cars but I do not drive one. I drive a Vespa for now and one day I will have my good car, my dream car, but that day will be when I will stop taking planes for work.

“I love fast cars but I do not drive one. I drive a Vespa for now.”

10. Away from travel retail, planes and airports, what does Piscean Francesco Leccisi do to relax?

Tennis, tennis, tennis! I am playing today at 6pm, do you want to join me?

*PREVIOUSLY FEATURED TEN EASY PIECES PERSONALITIES INCLUDE:

Meet Blue Chip Group Vice President Flora Lee

Meet ‘Mr Braun’, the ever-effervescent Klaus Mellin

Meet Karelia Tobacco Company ‘voice’ Joanna Kamarinopoulos 

Meet Monzelez WTR marketing specialist Irina Tarabanko

Meet the underwater wine woman Irina Wiedemann

Meet JTI Worldwide Duty Free’s Gemma Bateson