BREAKFAST WITH THE BOSS: LF USA

Ron Ventricelli – COO, LF USA

Tues July 31, 2012

Key Messages and Notes from Our Breakfast with Ron Ventricelli:

• LF USA is not a traditional wholesaler, with the strength of Li & Fung Ltd. – a company in 40 different countries – behind it. Its goal is to create a front-end business, with licenses, proprietary brands, following a very acquisitive strategy, having integrated over 20 companies.

• The company has a goal to transition into creating iconic brands. It is committed to acquiring the best companies in its product category.

• As Chief Operating Officer, Ron is responsible for operations, M&A, finance, customer service, orders, HR, banking functions, etc.

• Ron graduated with a degree in accounting, and worked at KPMG for 5.5 years. Once, his worst nightmare was working in the retail business. Now, he cites his time at Li & Fung the best of his career.

• “The problem with the retail industry is that it doesn’t bring in young kids on the back-end side of the business.”

• “Always be thinking – how can we make it differently? You must always be able to change, to become more efficient. Don’t be stagnant.”

• Sustainability: with 600,000 sq ft in the Empire Square building, as well as a host of other buildings in New York, LF USA is committed to being sustainable by being silver certified, buying energy credits, closely observing its carbon footprint, and by doing little things like getting rid of plastic bags and cups in the offices.

• The millennium consumer: Vena Cava is LF USA’s answer to the millennial generation. A recent show in Brooklyn featured all the designers from LF USA.

• Sourcing: LF USA doesn’t own factories. As an agent, it has no brick and mortar – this allows it to move quickly to take advantage of new opportunities. It sources from countries like Central America, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bangladesh, and helps to develop the people who work in foreign factories.

• Key metrics to a good acquisition: the people – how much does the management want to stay in the company? Is it a leading company? What are the synergies, growth opportunities? LF USA has a strict process for acquisitions, and payment for CEOs is and linked with performance benchmarks.

• “You have to get to know the people you negotiate with. After a negotiation, you shouldn’t feel like one side or the other has won. It’s a partnership.”

• “A key point of a successful acquisition is systems integration with overseas operations.”

• “Don’t be afraid of the unknown. And don’t let one bad experience crush you or fix your perception of an industry, company, or person.”

• “Focus on the bottom line.”

• LF USA has a Twitter-integrated platform, where interns are only a tweet away from the CEO!

• The US has lost the manufacturing skill set, but don’t fuss too much about losing manufacturing jobs in the US; there are other types of jobs for employees in the US.

• Raw materials are the biggest component of prices. And the price of leather is going up dramatically.

• “Never say never.” Be open to the opportunities that come your way. Be open-minded at all costs.

• “People don’t work out of love. They work out of drive.”

• “Let no one be tougher on yourself than yourself.”

Notes Compliments of Maggie Jiang

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