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Kering Eyewear Launches Blockchain-Based “V.I.R.T.U.S.” Project

The company has landed an inclusive data exchange platform for measuring the overall impact of its value chain.

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Kering Eyewear HQ Villa Zaguri Padova
Kering Eyewear HQ Villa Zaguri Padova

(PRESS RELEASE) Kering Eyewear takes a major step forward in its sustainability strategy by launching and staging the new V.I.R.T.U.S project: a Verified, Integrated, Reliable, Trustworthy, Unique and Secure data exchange platform built upon the blockchain technology as a key enabler of assessment and traceability of all operations involved in the manufacturing system.

This substantial move comes as a further attestation of Kering Eyewear’s objective to comply with the Kering Group’s sustainability pillars: Care for the planet, Collaborate for people and Create innovation, grounded on low-impact solutions and innovative materials that will ultimately inspire and empower future generations to design and craft truly sustainable products.

Started in 2018, the new V.I.R.T.U.S. system adopts the blockchain technology on a regulated platform that will allow the company to efficiently measure and quantify the impact of all parties and processes throughout the production flows. Every partner in the Kering Eyewear network will be called on to record directly on the digital platform the data and information required to verify and confirm that each link within the chain is actually adhering to the quality standards and to the environmental, social and ethical practices set out by Kering Eyewear.

This new governance structure, incorporated within Kering Eyewear’s already groundbreaking business model, represents a pioneering case in the industry where a luxury company implements a proprietary tool to ensure the vertical mapping and scrutiny of its value chain throughout an extremely widespread and articulated organization; an expanded ecosystem made up of more than 20 key suppliers that, in turn, work with a large number of contractors and sub-contractors distributed across Italy and abroad.

In fact, since its founding in 2014, Kering Eyewear has always operated with a multi-tier supply chain, at local and global levels, to deliver an extraordinarily competitive and differentiated range of sunglasses and optical frames for all the brands featured in its portfolio. Teaming up with the best-in-class partners in the industry is a major driver for the company’s successful business model but also an extremely challenging scenario in the current shift towards the new operational system.

This initiative aims at encouraging greater transparency and increasing awareness about the impact that each stakeholder has on the value chain, promoting a peer-to-peer storage network in which every player will be part of the positive change, working more closely and transparently under a shared vision of trust and respect.

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In this progressive context, the combination of cutting-edge technology and radical integrity will be a required condition to incentivize and strengthen the ongoing dialogue and cross-collaboration between all entities, which Kering Eyewear firmly considers as an essential action and a foundational element for future business growth.

Disruptive innovation, sustainability and respect for people and the planet are paramount values for Kering Eyewear, values which are also embraced by the new V.I.R.T.U.S. tech revolution and its mission to synergically integrate multiple voices to trace, track and connect a comprehensive amount of information and figures within a realistic repository for each passage incorporated in the production chain.

The blockchain is a centralized, distributed ledger that will allow all parties to contribute to the creation of Kering Eyewear’s product-specific database through univocal and unalterable transactions, without any intervention from intermediaries. The cryptographic secure system avoids hacks and manipulations while timely data updates, replications and synchronizations create trust, authenticity and transparency in the accounting asset.

All data uploaded to the ledger lead to the complete traceability of the manufactured good, following the product’s path directly from its origins – from the provenance of raw materials and components to processing, final assembly and related certifications – therefore delivering an exact, complete and reliable overview about every action and aspect behind the crafting of the eyewear of today and tomorrow.

With this remarkable project, Kering Eyewear used the Blockchain platform as a starting point, developing an advanced solution that enables real-time workflow throughout different companies, settles data alignment and integration issues and provides every partner with full visibility on its active contribution within the whole supply chain.

After the pilot launch in 2018 with the initial participation of 5 partners, the project has rapidly evolved to currently have 16 partners involved, and its availability is forecasted to advance and extend to the entire Kering Eyewear Supply Chain starting next year, including the direct participation of Certottica, the Italian Institute of Certification of Optical Products.

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“V.I.R.T.U.S. is a complex and challenging journey through real innovation and sustainability”, remarked Barbara Lissi, Kering Eyewear’s global head of supply chain. “After a 3-year launch phase, we are now able to start building a clear and transparent roadmap of our entire supply chain, achieving detailed analysis and knowledge about the provenance and characteristics of each composition and each manufacturing technique behind what we do. We believe that collecting and sharing truthful information, tracking down the source of the raw materials and components used, is the most consistent and respectful way to corroborate the quality of our products and their full compliance with our ethic and aesthetic standards.”

“Fostering innovation means adapting state-of-the-art technology to the philosophy of collaboration and sharing at the heart of our company”, commented Daniel Bellini, Kering Eyewear’s global head of IT & planning. “Our blockchain-based method ensures the protection, security and authenticity of every transaction providing complete identifiability and traceability of our products and partners through verifiable and immutable data. This initiative not only represents a true revolution for the industry but also a profound and inevitable transformation of our progressive path towards increased efficiency and transparent communication”.

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