By  on November 10, 2010

MILAN — After almost four months without a chief executive officer, Brioni Roman Style SpA has tapped Francesco Pesci to head the firm.

He succeeds Andrea Perrone, the grandson of Brioni co-founder Gaetano Savini, who resigned last July. In the interim, the company’s general manager, Antonio Bianchini, handled day-to-day executive duties.

Pesci, who’s worked for 13 years at the firm except for a three-year break in the 2004-2007 period, underscored the evolution of the company over the past few years. “Brioni has evolved from a mono-product to a brand that has become a reference point in men’s wear,” he said.

Brioni is known for its tailored, handmade men’s suits. Asked about his projects for the label, Pesci said that “in the long run, I would like Brioni to be considered the most prestigious in men’s wear in terms of quality and positioning. To accomplish this, I want to invest in the brand and especially in its retail network, which is fundamental to sustain the label and its image.”

The executive, who hails from Rome, was previously the group’s commercial director. After an initial experience at Colgate-Palmolive, Pesci joined Brioni in 1994 and lived in Japan while developing the company’s Asian and Middle East strategies. Following a three-year stint with luxury jeweler Damiani, including responsibility for Asia and a post as ceo of the Japanese subsidiary, Pesci returned to Italy and Brioni in 2007.

Pesci’s experience in Asia and also in the U.S. is bound to be an asset for Brioni, which has plans to expand in both areas. “China is showing significant growth,” he said, adding that three or four stores are planned to open in China next year, which will bring the total number of boutiques in that market to 10 or 11.

In the U.S., which showed “encouraging signs in 2010,” the company will open a Rodeo Drive store in August 2011. In Europe, Brioni will open its first directly operated store in Germany in Düsseldorf.

Alessandro Dell’Acqua was named creative director of the brand’s women division this summer, returning the collection to a more tailored and classical tradition. Pesci said this was “an important step,” as the “role of a designer is fundamental to translate the brand’s exclusive image into women’s wear.” The executive said he believes the decision has already brought results and growth. The men’s collection is designed by a team.

Based in Penne, Italy, the company, which celebrates its 65th anniversary this year, posted sales of 153 million euros, or $212.6 million, in 2009, and Pesci expects to close 2010 with a 10 percent gain.

In November 2008, Brioni hired BNP Paribas to manage the sale of a minority stake, but then ruled out that possibility a year later. A family buyout took place four years ago, when Brioni ousted former ceo Umberto Angeloni.

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