TURIN, Italy -- Emilio Lavazza, who headed Lavazza S.p.A. between 1979 and 2008, is dead at the age of 78.
Emilio Lavazza (pictured at left) joined the family business in 1955. He became chief executive officer when his father, Giuseppe, died in 1971, and succeeded his uncle Pericle as chief executive officer upon the latter's death eight years later.
The Lavazza organization was founded by Luigi Lavazza in 1895 as a grocery store in Turin. It specialized in roasting, grinding and selling coffee, and incorporated as Luigi Lavazza S.p.A. in 1927. Lavazza introduced the vacuum packaging of coffee to Italy in the early 1960s, greatly expanding the distance over which it could distribute quality coffees.
A strong believer in communications as a key to expansion, Emilio Lavazza devoted considerable attention to the campaigns that became an unforgettable part of Italian advertising history. Under his leadership, the company extended its reach to some 90 countries around the world, and attained a 47% share of the Italian retail coffee market.
Active in industry affairs, Lavazza served as president of the European Coffee Federation in 1986-87, chairman of the European Federation of Coffee Roaster Associations from 1986 through 1988, and president of the Italian Association of Food Industries from 1991 through 1999.
Lavazza was honored by Italy as a Cavaliere del Lavoro della Republica (Knight of Labor of the Republic) in 1991. He was awarded an honorary degree in business and economics by the University of Turin in 1993, and was a member of the Bank of Italy's board of regency between 1996 and 2002.