By  on October 19, 2010

MILAN — Sixty SpA is redefining its structure and management to breathe new life into the company, which has been hurt by the global economic downturn.

The Italian apparel manufacturer, which produces the Miss Sixty line, among others, has appointed Pietro Bongiovanni as chief executive officer.

“The world has changed, and companies need to be quickly changed to adjust,” said Bongiovanni, a member of the group’s board for 16 years. That said, he will continue to focus “on the historically successful elements of the company, such as innovation, quality and service.”

He succeeds Renato Rossi, who founded the company with creative director Wicky Hassan in 1989. Rossi holds a 33 percent stake in Sixty and will continue to be actively involved in management and operations, but will concentrate on product development.

Guido Pullini and Marco Bortoletti have also joined the company. Pullini, who hails from footwear brand Geox, takes on the role of sales and marketing director of brands Miss Sixty, Killah, Energie, Refrigiwear and Murphy & Nye, and will coordinate foreign branches and retail. Bortoletti, a former Replay ceo, will help strengthen the group’s retail performance, coordinating creativity and research and development of the group’s fashion division, which includes the Miss Sixty, Energie and Killah brands.

Sixty had sales in 2009 of 470 million euros, or $653.3 million, and Bongiovanni said he expects revenues in 2010 to be “in line” with the previous year. Likewise, he forecasts earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization this year to be in line with 2009, when they totaled 43.9 million euros, or $61 million. At the end of 2009, net debt stood at 231.3 million euros, or $321.5 million, reduced from 404.5 million euros, or $594.6 million, a year earlier. Currency figures have been converted from the average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.

However, Bongiovanni is looking to grow the company. He is eyeing markets such as China, where the company already counts 77 stores. Ten store openings are expected in “the most profitable” regions next year, he said.

In September 2009, Sixty said it was outsourcing management of Miss Sixty and Energie stores in the U.S. to Canadian retailer Aldo Group.

Last year, Hassan had to forgo Miss Sixty’s runway show during New York Fashion Week in September to help cut costs. In 2009, the company restructured its wholesale and retail operations, inked new licensing agreements and retail partnerships and implemented tighter cost controls.

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