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Bally Severs Ties With CEO Franchini

Executive leaves luxury firm for personal reasons after seven-year stint.

MILAN — Bally International AG has parted company with chief executive officer Marco Franchini.

This story first appeared in the April 17, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Franchini, 51, leaves after seven years at the helm of the luxury shoe and accessories label for personal reasons, Bally stated Thursday. The firm has yet to name a successor.

“Marco has been pivotal for the successful turnaround of Bally since he joined in early 2002. His outstanding efforts have helped make Bally into the successful company that it is today,” Bally stated.

Franchini, a former Gucci veteran, guided Bally to break even in 2004 after 16 years of losses. After bringing back production in-house and expanding Bally’s retail network to 730 points of sale worldwide, Franchini said last April he expected the label to close fiscal 2008 with sales of around 500 million Swiss francs, or $462.7 million. Bally registered revenues of 400 million Swiss francs, or $337.1 million, in 2007.

Dollar figures were converted at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.

Vienna-based Labelux Group acquired Bally from TPG Capital last June for an undisclosed sum. TPG bought Bally for an estimated $200 million in 1999.

Bally president Peter Harf stated Labelux remained committed to its investment for the long term and underlined Franchini’s departure was unrelated to the current economic environment. He added there would be no further management changes and renewed his support for creative director Brian Atwood, whom Franchini appointed in 2007.

“We face the same difficult economic environment as all other companies in the industry. However, as a brand with firm, authentic values and focus on quality, we feel Bally is well positioned to weather this storm. We are excited about its development and we remain committed to making further investments to realize the long-term strategy that has been defined. We take a countercyclical stance and embrace the selective opportunities that this environment brings,” Harf stated.

He added that Bally’s goal remained that of growing into “a big and profitable luxury house” and that management would focus on optimizing the retail network and company processes to do so.

“We will continue with a multichannel strategy of own retail, franchise, shop-in-shop and wholesale distribution,” Harf stated.

Bally launched its first online store in February.

The company was founded in 1851 by Swiss industrialist Carl Franz Bally and currently trades in 66 countries worldwide. Footwear represents 50 percent of sales; bags and accessories 40 percent, and ready-to-wear 10 percent.