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Italian Firms Eye Stock Market

Up to six luxury goods and fashion companies are looking to list in Milan in the first half of 2014, the head of the stock exchange said Monday.

MILAN — Up to six luxury goods and fashion companies are looking to list in Milan in the first half of 2014, the head of the stock exchange said Monday.

Speaking to the press during the annual Luxury & Finance event — where top executives from luxury goods, fashion and lifestyle companies meet financial industry professionals and investors in one-on-one meetings — Raffaele Jerusalmi, the chief executive of Italy’s stock exchange, said that there is increasing interest in the stock market by luxury goods firms and fashion players.

While not giving out any names of companies ramping up for a listing next year, Jerusalmi said a few are looking to quote on the exchange’s AIM market for smaller firms. The potential listers include family-owned and private equity-owned companies.

Pointing to the Milan Stock Exchange’s efforts to encourage more firms to list, Jerusalmi cited how there are some 131 companies currently in the exchange’s Elite program, many of them luxury goods makers, which means the bourse’s operator is “creating a pipeline of potential listers.”

Elite, launched in 2012, is a program that helps small and often family-run businesses through their growth phases and doesn’t necessarily lead to stock market listings. However, it helps firms make all the preparations necessary for an eventual initial public offering.

Some 50 percent of fashion and luxury goods IPOs over the past four years have taken place in Milan, Jerusalmi said. “We feel we have all the potential to become the reference market for the sector, even for companies based in foreign countries like the United States and China.”

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At the same event Monday, Brunello Cucinelli revealed he sees growth over the next two years, and a “special first half” of 2014.

“Product comes first and we closed our spring-summer 2014 orders very well,” said an upbeat Cucinelli at the conference organized at the Milan Stock Exchange with Vogue Italia. “There is a strong attention to a well-crafted Made in Italy luxury product and when a collection is judged positively by multibrand retailers, it’s a good sign.”

The entrepreneur said he expects his company to close 2013 with double-digit growth in both sales and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Referring to a company’s EBITDA, he said the figure should always account for around “18 percent of sales, maximum 19 percent,” reflecting fair prices.

Despite Italy’s political and economic issues, Cucinelli said the country is actually in a “Renaissance” phase.

Cucinelli said he is working on creating a more “contemporary” firm with the contribution of younger employees, also at an executive level. He revealed he plans to open a school for tailors in Carrara next year, in addition to the existing knitwear, gardening and masonry schools he has in Solomeo, in Italy’s Umbria region. This follows the signing in September of a memorandum of understanding to buy men’s suit producer Sartoria d’Avenza from d’Avenza Fashion SpA for 3.5 million euros, or $4.7 million at current exchange — a division that employs 56 workers.

The Italian luxury firm is also planning to purchase the property located in Avenza, near Tuscany’s Carrara, where the business is and will continue to be based. The d’Avenza trademark is not part of the purchase.

“We had been thinking about taking control of a high-end men’s wear firm for the past two years. The Carrara area is specialized in men’s suits, similarly to Naples, and d’Avenza mostly produced traditional suits, with classic cuts. We just have to adjust them to make the fit more modern,” said Cucinelli. The project will kick off on Jan. 1, and the first collection of suits will be presented at Pitti Uomo in Florence that month.

The men’s division currently accounts for 36 percent of Cucinelli’s sales. Last year, the company reported revenues of 279 million euros, or $357.1 million at average exchange.

In terms of retailing, the firm plans to open 12 to 13 stores globally a year, of which eight or nine will be directly operated units. Today, there are 45 boutiques globally and 55 multibrand points of sale that carry the label.