Leonardo Del Vecchio, the owner of the Italian eyewear giant Luxottica, is turning 80 on May 22. To celebrate the occasion, he’s decided to splurge on a €9 million ($10 million) present—not to himself, but to Luxottica’s 8,000 employees in Italy.
According to a company press release, Del Vecchio will gift roughly 140,000 shares of Luxottica stock to the workers as a sign of appreciation. “With this small gesture, I would like to show how important the employees are to me: I truly feel as if we are family,” he said in the statement.
Del Vecchio, who founded Luxottica in 1961 in a small town surrounded by the Dolomites (the company has since moved its headquarters to Milan), is part of a strong tradition of Italian heads of enterprise who have gone beyond the usual tokens of gratitude in recognition of their employees’ contributions. Other such examples include Michele Ferrero, who owned the company that makes Nutella and prided himself on the fact that his workers never once went on strike (link in Italian) and Adriano Olivetti (link in Italian), founder of the typewriter manufacturer, who in the 1950s offered his employees nine months of maternity leave and time off for cultural education.
This is not the first time that Del Vecchio has gifted stock to his employees in Italy. On the occasion of the the company’s 50th anniversary, he gifted them €7 million in shares (link in Italian).
Luxottica is the world’s largest eyewear company, producing glasses under a range of brands including Ray-Ban, Persol, and Oakley and designer brands. It has more than 60,000 employees worldwide and annual sales of €7.65 billion.