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MILAN —In a style that i in- creasingly atypical for fashion types,Francesco and Beatrice Trussardi generally hy away from celebrity hype and gossip- fueled headlines.

This story first appeared in the December 26, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

In a reserved manner,in the past three years,they have streamlined the structure of the company they inherited from their father,Nicola Trussardi, cut licenses,focused strategies, created a management base and planned a renovation of brand stores.

The company can count today on a $2 million cash liq- uidity and boasts a 50 percent increase in ales in Europe for spring.It is also expanding its presence in the American and Asian markets.In 2002,Trus- sardi registered sales of $118 million,a 3 percent growth from the previous year.Licenses ac- counted for $80 million.

The Trussardis have with- stood inevitable comparisons to their charismatic father,and their headstrong working ways have won approval from Italy ’s fashion establishment.

“I can only say good things about them,”aid Mario Boselli, president of the Italian Cham- ber of Fashion.”They are very concrete,work hard,keep a low profile,and don ’t pay too much attention to appearances.And it ’s surely not easy to follow a volcanic personality uch as their father.”

Nicola Trussardi,a hrewd businessman who expanded his family ’s mall-town glove manu- facturer in the Seventies and Eighties,died in 1999 from in- juries suffered in a car accident. He was urvived by his wife, Marialuisa,and their four chil- dren,Francesco,Beatrice,Gaia and Tomaso.Their mother stayed on at the company to be sure her two eldest children would be ready to run the com- pany,and this fall,Marialuisa formally passed the baton.She remains a shareholder.Fran- cesco,28,is now the company ’s president and chief executive officer,while Beatrice,31,is in charge of product,image,and communication.She is also president of the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi,a nonprofit organization that promotes cul- tural activities.

Gaia and Tomaso model for the company ’s advertising cam- paigns,but are not yet actively involved in its management.At the moment,the younger ib- lings aren ’t on track to join the firm;Gaia is pursuing an acting career and Tomaso is still in school.

Francesco and Beatrice Trus- sardi have spearheaded a new corporate structure,ignificant- ly treamlining the intricate web of firms that previously made up the organization.Now, Finos SpA,the family holding company,controls Trussardi SpA and develops two business areas,fashion and real estate. The market value of the real es- tate division is estimated at around $120 million.

This year,with an investment of $12 million,the Trussardis delisted Rotondi Evolution, which controlled production of the company ’s econdary lines, by acquiring the shares that were on the market — or 20 per- cent of the company.

“We wanted to centralize our business and we felt that the market was not rewarding or en- hancing the performance of Rotondi,”aid Francesco Trus- sardi,who sat with his ister for an exclusive interview.Trus- sardi ’s clothing division,which includes all branches from human resources to technical know-how and management,is now called TRS Evolution and is placed under Trussardi SpA.Ro- tondi was fused in TRS.

“Francesco and Beatrice have rationalized the company ’s truc- ture:it ’s much more efficient now,”aid Carlo Pambianco,a luxury goods consultant analyst here.”I think they are grounded, sensible managers with a long- term perspective.”

The Trussardis ’focus now i on its traditional core business: leather and accessories.”We are very pleased with the success of our latest bag,called Era,this season ’s bestseller,”said Bea- trice Trussardi.Launched for fall 2002,Era features vintage- looking calf and nickel closures. For next pring,it will be of- fered in brightly colored eel and jacquard canvas.

“Depending on the feedback we receive from our customers, we want to offer a continuous model,”he said,”a cult bag that will [continue from eason to season ]and be updated with new materials.”Along with these sta- ples,the company plans to show new,more trend-oriented accessories each season.

The clothing division ac- counts for 65 percent of sales. Beatrice Trussardi said he wants to ee accessories ales increase by 50 percent next year. Trussardi said the new pring ad campaign,shot by Michel Comte, will focus on accessories.

Trussardi also aid the firm will launch a travel accessories division next year.”Guidelines will be function,technology and personalized details,” she said..

Also on the agenda is an ex- panded home collection,pro- duced by Inside.This is a com- pany controlled and managed by Trussardi,which holds a 60 per- cent stake in it.

“We are implementing our traditional and classic range with a election of home acces- sories that follow the clothing trends,such as pillows and bedding in the same materials used for our fashion collec- tions,” she said..

The house is rolling out a e- ries of home goods corners in Asia,where there is now one in- store shop in Taipei.The com- pany plans to open five in-store shops in China in 2003 and 10 in 2004.

During the past two years, Trussardi has been expanding in China,where it opened six freestanding boutiques.The company plans to open seven boutiques there by the end of 2003 in Hong Kong,Shanghai and Beijing.

During the past three years, Francesco Trussardi focused on shutting down activities that were not core businesses and cut licenses from 32 to 11. Existing licenses are with Cosmopolitan Cosmetics for fra- grances;Forall for men ’s wear; Le Mazza for production of footwear,which bows at retail next pring for men and women; Mantero for ties and scarves; Supergin for baby and junior lines,and Visibilia for eyewear. “We are now considering a watch project,”the ceo said.The Trussardi Jeans and Trussardi Sport lines are directly pro- duced and distributed by TRS.

Japan is Trussardi ’s most pro- ductive market,accounting for 40 percent of sales,including a series of licenses that range from innerwear to golf collections. The company et up a venture with Teijin,a leading Japanese rayon manufacturer,in 1999.

As well,Trussardi is expand- ing its presence in the U.S., which accounts for between 5 and 7 percent of sales.The de- signer line is available at Linda Dresner;Apollo in New York; Tootsie ’s in Houston and Dallas; Martha Phillips in Palm Beach, and at ome Nordstrom stores, among others.

Trussardi is working on restyling its 35 brand boutiques. The new tore concept features leather walls,nickel details, leather-covered cubes used as displays,and marble mosaic floors.With Fontana Arte,the Trussardis designed exclusive grape-shaped lamps.The Via Sant ’Andrea boutique here will be renovated along this model by next pring.Recent openings include boutiques on Rome ’s Via Condotti,Sardinia ’s Porto Cervo, and in Jeddah,Saudi Arabia.

The Jeans and Sport lines are available at 10 of its own stores and 100 franchised shops, but are not distributed in Japan.

The company ’s flagship here is at the Marino alla Scala palazzo, a 19th-century building next to the fabled opera house.Originally unveiled in 1996,the palazzo was completed last year and houses the company ’s headquarters,a bookshop,a restaurant,a New York-style café and an art gallery financed by the Fondazione Trussardi.The gallery has in the past hosted works by Picasso, Dennis Hopper and David Byrne. The boutique focuses on acces- sories in particular.

“We want this to be a multi- functional building and don ’t want it to be identified with Trussardi,”Beatrice Trussardi said.”It ’s open to the public,and we want to offer trends,culture and screenings,” she said..

She added that he plans to promote Contemporary Art also outside the palazzo.”We are scheduling a first project to be held next March in an open space yet to be defined.”