VERONA, Italy— Italy’s giant hosiery, innerwear and beachwear group Calzedonia SpA closed 2012 on an upbeat note, with growing profitability and revenues and plans to further expand outside national borders.
In a rare interview, Sandro Veronesi, who founded the company in 1986 and has grown it into a retail powerhouse, revealed that net profit last year reached 137 million euros, or $176.7 million, compared with 134 million euros, or $186.3 million, the previous year.
Revenues in 2012 grew 16 percent to 1.5 billion euros, or $1.9 billion euros, compared with 2011. Dollar amounts have been converted at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.
“The group’s three cornerstones are retail, product design and manufacturing,” said Veronesi, sitting in his spacious and luminous office at the group’s headquarters outside Verona, not far from the Montichiari and Castel Gandolfo hosiery hub.
A brick drawbridge leads into the modern glass building that houses facilities such as a kindergarten, and a restaurant and spa for employees in the hotel lodged a few steps away in a small medieval castle that Veronesi has restored.
“The bridge symbolizes the past leading into the future, represented by the glass,” said Veronesi, speaking ahead of the Calzedonia Forever Together Summer Show held in Rimini, Italy, last Tuesday. Drawing guests such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Tali Lennox, Leigh Lezark and Poppy Delevingne, the event comprised a beachwear runway show and performances by Ke$ha, The Misshapes and Planet Funk.
“I wanted to show a sign of optimism at such a dreary time. This makes me think of fun summer times at the beach with friends. This is not a one-off,” he said, declining to provide details on how much the event cost.
Asked if Victoria’s Secret extravaganzas were an inspiration, Veronesi said: “This has more an Italian character and we want to tell a story, but we do respect and look at the top companies in the sector.” He indicated a desire to grow the group’s beachwear division through such ventures.
Calzedonia partnered with Victoria’s Secret about seven years ago to introduce the Intimissimi label in the U.S.
There are currently 3,300 Calzedonia and Intimissimi stores in 30 countries, and the goal is to reach 3,700 by the end of 2013. The new openings are focused abroad, where more than half of the projected total units have already been opened.
“The economy is lagging in those countries that were central and strong for the company — Italy and Southern Europe, Spain, Greece and Portugal. But we have decided not to raise prices despite the increase of costs in order to maintain an appealing quality and price ratio,” explained Veronesi, who has contributed to reshaping the industry in Italy with his affordable and trend-oriented collections.
“The market is sleepy, we need to stimulate and renew our offer constantly,” he added, noting that two-thirds of sales are derived from innerwear, while hosiery and swimwear account for the rest. Veronesi shies away from total looks, and would rather “specialize for more credibility.”
The company took control of the historic cashmere brand Falconeri in 2009, which counted 41 points of sale at the end of 2012, including venues in Milan’s Via della Spiga, Rome, Florence, Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Russia.
The entrepreneur initiated the group’s expansion in France and Germany two years ago, where there are 40 and 30 stores, respectively. He has developed business in Eastern Europe and Russia, which is now the second-largest market after Italy. In 2013, growing a presence in the Far East is high on the agenda, as well as the Middle East and in Brazil, where there currently are 15 stores. Units in Hong Kong and Tokyo will open this year.
The company last year spent 86 million euros, or $111 million, on communications, and Veronesi said he has also upped the ante on communications outside Italy. Gisele Bündchen has regularly modeled for Calzedonia ads as well as Irina Shayk for Intimissimi.
In 2012, sales for all group brands showed gains: Hosiery, socks and beachwear sales by Calzedonia were up 16 percent to 487 million euros, or $628.2 million, while innerwear brand Intimissimi showed an 8 percent gain to 481 million euros, or $620.5 million. The more-trendsetting innerwear label Tezenis, which counts stores in capitals such as London and Moscow, grew 25 percent to 401 million euros, or $517.3 million. Products are sold only in branded stores, either directly operated or franchised. Location, image, marketing and communications have largely contributed to the success of the group’s retail network, he said.
Although speculation on a public listing periodically surfaces, Veronesi said there are no plans to go public.
The company counts 20,000 employees globally, of which 2,200 are in Italy and 88 percent are women. Company-owned factories located in a range of countries in Europe and Eastern Europe (Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria) and Sri Lanka produce 85 percent of products.
“The market is constantly evolving and we have to do better than the day before,” concluded Veronesi.
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)