3 Questions for Gianluca Croci
Managing Director, Lectra France

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3 Questions for Gianluca Croci, Managing Director, Lectra France

Gianluca Croci is passionate about managing the Group’s activities in France. Lectra delivers smart, connected solutions to a range of sectors, including fashion. A determined advocate for Industry 4.0, Mr Croci works to bring leading-edge digital solutions to the Made in France movement.

Tell us about Lectra and its innovative solutions.

Lectra was founded in the Gironde department in 1973. Its mission is to develop innovative solutions, especially for the textile industry, such as scanner plotters and CAD equipment. We’re a pioneer in the field and as early as 2007 we launched connected cutting solutions with the Internet and machines equipped with over 100 sensors. We’ve been listed on the Paris stock market since 1987, and the Lectra Group is present in 34 countries. The Group’s sales are posted at €280 million; the textile sector accounts for 50% of that and is still a key market.

Our ambition hasn’t changed since the 70s: we want to be an innovative player and trusted partner to help businesses as they digitise. This is a challenge for the French textile industry which, from a technology standpoint, is still running behind. The sector’s past has been marked by the English industrial revolution and different upheavals such as the fall of the Berlin wall, which prompted delocalisation to Eastern Europe. Then interest in Asia accelerated that trend. The result was that industrial tools didn’t evolve and may now be obsolete. However the health crisis and lockdown have revealed a new interest in Made in France, since it secures supply chains and meets a growing consumer demand. But this “return” to France can only work through massive digitisation applied to creating brands and going all the way through to the end consumer. Digitisation lets businesses be agile and manage costs. We’re convinced that the future of fashion is in Industry 4.0.

How do your solutions help improve production and control costs?

Our offer is constantly evolving to better adapt to market constraints; we now know that a “time to market” approach is the key to success. It’s important to respond quickly to the demands of increasingly fickle consumers – look at the increase in capsule collections. To meet that need, we’ve set up the Fashion On Demand by Lectra platform, giving brands a digital ecosystem to manage customised production and get orders to the cutting room in just a few minutes. Shorter delivery times and a focus on short channels make this an efficient solution to satisfy clients who are always searching for something new. Cost control is another benefit of technology and automation. In the textile world, there are numerous stages between design and making up where manual skills are essential, but other steps can be executed by machines. Cutting is one example, and Lectra’s connected solutions mean you can cut apparel fabrics quickly with a flexible method that also respects the brand or designer’s signature. Our innovations have already won over more than 400 French fashion players in luxury, premium and mass market positioning. They all improved their performance and efficiency.

How are you working to anticipate the needs and consequently the technologies of the future?

Innovation is central to Lectra’s DNA. Our technology campus in the Cestas commune near Bordeaux has a work force of 400 collaborators involved in the conception and development of our offer. Every year we invest 12% of turnover, or around €30 million, in R&D. Our teams’ cutting-edge knowledge, their overview of the best practices in every industry segment and their data skills are at the heart of our value proposition. Our expertise is built on four pillars: premium positioning, three strategic markets, a focus on clients and 4.0 services. This vision is shared by our consultants, solution experts and project managers. In fact, our Customer Success call centre can give real-time remote assistance to make sure that our solutions work and to facilitate our clients’ day-to-day. Input from our clients and partners (sector players and leading fashion schools) inspire our thought processes and forecasting. Our think tanks, webinars and workshops are also opportunities for discussions and sharing. In addition, we have a dedicated Innovation Lab. Through incubating numerous startups, it identifies the changes in different fashion professions and, with input from our clients, creates products and services for the future. And finally, we’re proud that we’re a French company and that we’ve kept our technology centre in Gironde, France. We want to play a key role in the country’s economic momentum. We’re also an active member of the Savoir Faire Ensemble movement. Since the beginning of the first lockdown. the Lectra production centre helped manufacture masks and isolation gowns pro bono. We enjoy every challenge that helps push Industry 4.0 – the core of our profession – forward.