By  on March 1, 2011

MILAN — The Ferragamo family holding company FerragamoFinanziaria SpA has sold 8 percent of Salvatore Ferragamo Italia SpA toHong Kong businessman Peter Woo and his family.

At the sametime, the company revealed plans to increase its equity interest inFerragamo’s distribution companies based in Greater China, which willrise to a 75 percent stake from the current 50 percent (60 percent forMacau) in January 2013.

The Woo family has been a partner of thegroup in the Greater China for more than 20 years and helped distributethe brand in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.

“Theagreements entered into today are aimed to strengthen the Ferragamogroup’s presence in a key area of the luxury business for the thirdmillennium and enable us, at the same time, to strengthen our strategicrelationships with a steadfast and experienced partner with whom weshare a long-term vision,” said Ferruccio Ferragamo, chairman ofSalvatore Ferragamo Italia SpA. “These transactions are perfectlyconsistent with the development plan we have been preparing for thefuture of the Ferragamo group.”

Armando Branchini, deputychairman of Milan-based consultancy InterCorporate, said the agreement“makes perfect sense. The Ferragamos realize they have to push theaccelerator in China and, this way, they have more control on theirdistribution.”

The Ferragamos and the Woos, whose interestsspan from property development and retail to hotels andtelecommunications in Hong Kong and in Mainland China, have been“personally close for more than 20 years. The Woos helped Ferragamoapproach the Chinese market,” said Branchini. In the luxury goodsindustry, Ferragamo was a pioneer in Asia: the first Hong Kong storeopened in 1986, and the first boutique in Mainland China opened in 1994.There are over 90 stores in Greater China today, almost half of whichare directly operated.

China has grown into the first market forFerragamo, but a spokeswoman declined to break down yearly revenues bygeographical region.

Michele Norsa, chief executive officer ofSalvatore Ferragamo, said before the fashion brand’s show last Sundaythat sales in 2010 rose 26 percent to 782 million euros, or $1.03billion at average exchange rates, and that 2011 also kicked off with agrowth trend. No decision has been taken on an initial public offering,and Norsa denied a report in the London Sunday Times that Ferragamo waslooking to list in Hong Kong.

Ferragamo opened a large flagshipin Shanghai last April to coincide with the World Expo. In June, theFlorence-based firm staged a fashion show in Hong Kong at the Bank ofChina skyscraper.

Peter Woo Kwong Ching is the chairman andmajority shareholder of Hong Kong listed groups Wheelock and CompanyLtd. and Wharf Holdings Ltd. Woo’s private enterprise, besides managinginvestment funds, also owns the Lane Crawford Joyce Group in the retailand distribution of luxury goods and apparel with an annual turnover ofaround 800 million euros, or $1.1 billion at current exchange rates.

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