Christmas at Peck, the italian deli shop
It has industrial-sized numbers but the quality of an artisanal boutique. Leone Marzotto has led the historic Milanese brand Peck to more than 16 million euros in sales, with two new spaces opening in Milan over the course of a few months.
This “balance sheet” perfectly represents the success of the new business strategy of one of the most iconic names when it comes to gourmet Milanese food. In April 2013, the historic Peck brand was purchased by Pietro Marzotto, who set the stage for taking the boutique into the third millennium while maintaining its reputation as a purveyor of quality food and wine.
An emporium frequented by locals and a destination for tourists from all over the world, in 2018, it boasted more than 16 million euros in sales, bringing in 500,000 euros on Christmas Eve alone. This is a special week for a boutique that sells something like 500 kilograms of Russian salad, 1,000 “loaves” of paté, 400 kilograms of pork sausage and the same amount of tortellini.
Leone Marzotto (pictured), the son of Pietro (who passed away in April 2018), gave up his career as a lawyer to manage Peck, and today is the ceo and vice president. He spoke to MAG about the value of the brand as well as new projects, which include new store openings.
Can you tell us what Peck is?
It is a hub for gourmets all over the world. It all started back in 1883 when butcher Francesco Peck decided to open a shop selling cured and smoked meats. The store at Via Orefici 2 quickly became a popular stop in Milan, which was already considered the economic capital of Italy at the time.
Your father purchased the Peck empire in 2012. Did he turn the company over to you right away?
Yes. I began working in sales and in making the products, learning the secrets of the company by working side by side with the long-time personnel to learn the tricks of the trade. For example, working with head butcher Paolo Schiavone in the meat department. Then I went to work with the final product and purchasing.
What makes this brand unique?
It has always been run by families since 1883. Four families have followed since then, with mine being the fifth. Every generation purchased 100% of the brand, passing the torch about every 25 years on average. The secret is perhaps that Peck has always been reinterpreted while remaining faithful to tradition.
Let’s talk business…
December is the most important month for the brand because 30% of our annual turnover takes place then. In terms of the rest of the year, Saturday has double the sales than any other day of the week. Turnover, which this year exceeds 16 million euros, comes mainly from sales in the shop though, for example, in Via Spadari, we have a cafe called il Piccolo Peck that was created to offer food all day long. Upstairs, there is the Al Peck restaurant focused on lunch where dishes are made to order.
You do a lot of volume at Christmas. How do you handle that?
During the weeks before Christmas, we bring in reinforcements of about 30 workers. They are often former employees who are now in pension. They come in to give us a hand.
I’ve heard that you get behind the counter yourself on 24 December …
Yes. It is a tradition for me. That day, which is so important for the company, I want to be with my employees. It is a highlight and an important time, so much so that, we do the first briefing for the following December in January.
How do you choose which products to sell?
It is rare that you will find new products on our shelves or behind the delicatessen counter because we have our historic suppliers, for example our affineurs. However, at times, we make the strategic choice to add something new such as with sun-dried peppers and certain pickled vegetables. Our retail culture has grown by analyzing our assortment. When we arrived in 2012, there was no data to refer back to so we created a management system in order to have information about the receipt, the time of purchase, and margins. This helps us understand our customers’ buying patterns and to build loyalty.
There is a whole world behind the store shelves in Via Spadari…
Yes, of the 4,000 square metres, only 1,200 of that is for retail. The rest is dedicated to making and storing roast stuffed chickens and capons, handmade ravioli, meat sauce, paté, smoked and cured meats, mozzarella and burrata cheeses, and all of the products we offer customers in our cafe.
Picture: Niko Romito, Leone Marzotto, Massimiliano Alajmo, Galileo Reposo.
Who shops at Peck?
The Milanese and anyone who comes through the city. People from France, Russia, Japan, and Brazil, the latter drawn in by the labels in our wine shop. There are many foreigners who come to us because they’ve read about us in guidebooks or in publications, but mainly thanks to word of mouth. Some come looking for specific products that they’ve been lucky enough to try with friends who came through here themselves at one time.
Speaking of innovation, last year Peck invested in two new stores…
Yes, we opened in Porta Venezia and City Life (see MAG), which is the start of a new legacy for us, more of a collective culture. It has brought in young people and new skills.
What are your expectations for the future?
Making Peck in Via Spadari all the more solid and special, focusing on expanding the product offering. Then opening something new that doesn’t necessarily rely on the four main concepts we’ve replicated in the City Life store, but with specific dedicated shops like a butcher, pastry shop, or a cafe with ready-made dishes.
by francesca corradi
More than 16 million in sales
500,000 euros in sales on Christmas Eve
136 years of history