By  on March 20, 2007

MILAN — Alessandro Dell'Acqua's new owners, the investors of the Luxembourg-based holding group Redlux, have an ambitious agenda for the brand, especially for its U.S. expansion.

The company has entered into a partnership with Ellegi Inc. and created a firm called Ready, which will distribute the Dell'Acqua brand in North and South America and manage the brand's flagship on Madison Avenue in Manhattan.

"Alessandro has always had a loyal customer base in the U.S., but, through no fault of his, the brand has suffered untimely deliveries and insufficient service," Manlio Cocchini, chairman of Redlux, said in an interview at headquarters here.

"I can guarantee for production, and now I know Ellegi, a local, credible partner with 20 years of experience in the U.S., working with such companies as Dolce & Gabbana or MaxMara, will take care of customer satisfaction, logistics, organization, time to market and all that makes a brand successful," said Cocchini, who joined Redlux last year.

Dell'Acqua said he was happy with the new agreement, viewing it as a turnaround in the strategy of the group. The designer said the partnership will allow the company to "find the right positioning, and to strengthen the brand's distribution by focusing on its development with main department stores."

Indeed, working with U.S. department stores is high on the agenda for Cocchini, who previously was general manager of Gilmar, which manufactures and distributes the Iceberg, Giambattista Valli and Frankie Morello collections, and president of Gilmar USA.

Although sold at specialty retailers such as Fred Segal and at Bergdorf Goodman with a limited edition of handbags, Dell'Acqua's ready-to-wear collections are not available at department stores.

"Alessandro's designs are in tune with the American customer's requests, with his distinctive but clean lines, the fits, the fabrics, the details and a good selection of special occasion garments,'' Cocchini said. "Now, through Ellegi, we can better service the stores."

Ellegi, which will also distribute the Borbonese line, controlled by Redlux, will start working with the spring/summer 2008 collection.

Cocchini said he was pleased with the location and the visibility of the Dell'Acqua boutique, which opened three years ago, and plans to turn it into "the motor" of the brand and a means to communicate the essence and image of the designer's world. Cultural, art and music events will be scheduled at the boutique at least once a month.The U.S. accounts for 8 percent of Dell'Acqua's sales. "We want to triple the business and expand its accessories division by relying on the Borbonese and Redwall production facilities," Cocchini said.

In addition to the Dell'Acqua and Borbonese businesses, Redlux also controls the historical Italian accessories company Redwall and clothing manufacturer Cherrygrove, a holding firm originally put together by the Arpels Group. Redlux acquired these companies last year.

Cocchini said he expects Dell'Acqua to register sales of 12 million to 13 million euros in 2007, or $15.8 million and $17.2 million at current exchange rate, up 30 percent compared with last year.

The brand also has a fragrance license with Euroitalia, a men's shoes license with Zengarini, and a menswear collection license with Tombolini. A new eyewear license is slated for this year. While not harboring plans to overstretch the Dell'Acqua product offering, Cocchini said he and the designer are mulling an innerwear line. Dell'Acqua is also working on the collections by La Perla and Borbonese, but Cocchini said he believes the designer will eventually have to "dedicate himself entirely to his namesake line as that will start growing."

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