NEW YORK — The Ferragamos are on the move.
“We are trying to do here what we are able to do in Florence, which is present a complete image of the entire house of Ferragamo products,” said Massimo Ferragamo, director of North American operations. He is the youngest of six Ferragamo siblings who run the company with their mother, Wanda Ferragamo.
What they are doing is bringing the separate men’s and women’s Fifth Avenue boutiques under one roof in Trump Tower. They will still be individual shops, across the atrium from each other, flanking the Fifth Avenue entrance to the glistening glass tower. The stores open Thursday.
Each shop has an entrance and windows on Fifth Avenue as well as in the Trump Tower atrium.
The two previous Ferragamo stores had a combined total of 4,200 square feet of sales space and 3,500 square feet of stock space. The new stores have a total 5,000 square feet of selling space and 4,500 square feet of stock room.
Volume is expected to exceed $20 million the first year, which is 30 percent better than the volume of the two previous units combined.
The move is part of a steady growth pattern that is methodically directed by the family of Salvatore Ferragamo, the shoemaker who founded the luxury products company bearing his name 67 years ago.
The sales areas of the new stores feature gray terrazzo flooring, black lacquer cases and beige or pink lacquer accents.
Pink and black rugs help define the departments, and cream leather seats create nooks in ready-to-wear and shoe areas. Family photographs complete the decor.
Ferragamo noted that business in the U.S. is strong — about 40 percent ahead of where it was last year — but added, “We would have made this move even if business were flat. Fifth Avenue and 57th Street is the nucleus of this town, and we feel it is important to be here.”
Ferragamo said exposure to local and tourist traffic is good for the block.
“There are stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany, Cartier and Ferragamo, and others like Warner Bros., Levi’s and Coca-Cola. We each cater to our own type of customer.”
He said a store like Ferragamo has a strong local clientele as well as enough international recognition to attract visitors, a key to successful retailing in that neighborhood.
The new boutiques represent about 75 percent women’s and 25 percent men’s. In the women’s area, shoes account for about 50 to 55 percent of the business, accessories are roughly 30 to 35 percent, and rtw is about 10 to 15 percent.
It is a big move for the company, although the physical move isn’t that far. Salvatore Ferragamo has had a presence on Fifth Avenue for 24 years. Its previous women’s store, at 715 Fifth Ave., was across 56th Street from Trump Tower, and the men’s store, at 730 Fifth Ave., was across Fifth Avenue.
Last year, worldwide wholesale volume for the company, which makes its headquarters in a 13th-century palazzo on the banks of the Arno in Florence, was about $214.5 million. That nearly doubled the sales of the previous year. In the U.S., which accounts for 53 percent of total sales, Ferragamo generated $113 million.
This year, the company had projected sales of $275 million, but Ferragamo said business is already running about 50 percent ahead worldwide. Women’s shoes are still the core of the business, generating about 47 percent of sales, and men’s shoes account for 12 percent. Apparel contributes 13 percent, and the remainder comes from bags and small leather goods, ties, scarves and gift items.
Salvatore Ferragamo has four other stores in North America: Beverly Hills — which is the largest producer after the Manhattan store — Palm Beach, San Diego and Vancouver. Ferragamo said the Vancouver store last year doubled in size, and volume grew by 150 percent. The company wholly owns 40 stores worldwide, and has another 120 stores in joint-ventures.
Distribution in the U.S. is 25 percent through its own stores, and 75 percent through other retailers. In all, Ferragamo is in 800 doors in this country with its shoes and accessories. Apparel is in more limited distribution to retailers and includes Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and I. Magnin.
Worldwide distribution is 35 percent through its own stores, with the rest through other venues. Ferragamo markets its products in 36 countries.
Ferragamo said although no sites are set yet, there could be about 10 to 15 units in North America within the next five years.
“Location is the most important element [in choosing a store site], even more than the city itself,” he said. “If a great site becomes available in a major city, we will consider it.”
He said some of the areas currently being discussed for expansion include Chicago, Orange County, Calif., San Francisco, and Washington.
While 53 percent of Ferragamo’s sales come from the U.S., 25 percent come from Europe, and the Orient and Mideast generate 15 percent of sales. Seven percent of sales come from duty-free shops at airports around the world.
The biggest surge is slated to come in the Orient. China is expected to have six stores by the end of 1997. The Ferragamos opened a unit in Shanghai in April, and in Shenzhen last November. The company already has units in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and South Korea. It will open a store in Osaka in October, and its third store in Singapore in September. It also opened two stores in Australia in April — in Sydney and in Surfer’s Paradise, a resort town.
Four stores are opening this summer in the Mideast, in Jiddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The firm has no plans for additional product lines at this time, although Ferragamo said a fragrance is not out of the question. It would be the first — and probably the only — line to be done outside the company.
“We do not license, and we only produce in Italy,” he said. “We don’t like to lose control of our name. The risk of losing control is more important than the quick money we could make in licensing.”
The company has always been in the hands of the founder’s family. When Salvatore Ferragamo died in 1960, his widow, Wanda, was left with six children, all under 18. She ran the firm, guiding its expansion. Gradually each of the children found his or her own spot in the business.
“The beauty of this kind of company is that there are many different aspects to it, and it is international,” he said. “If you like the law, or design, or advertising, or another area, there is an opportunity here.”
Massimo Ferragamo studied law in Florence, and came to the U.S. to join the training program for Saks Fifth Avenue.
“At that time, our New York office was growing, and I liked it here, so I stayed,” he said. He has been in the U.S. for 12 years, and returns to Italy every other month. He is chairman of Moda Imports, a division of the company established to import and market all Ferragamo products in North America.
Ferragamo added that the six children were not pushed into the business, but it just “seemed natural” to join.
Wanda Ferragamo still has an active role at the helm of the company.
Fiamma di San Giuliano Ferragamo, the eldest daughter and the only child to have worked with her father, heads the women’s footwear and leather goods division.
Giovanna Gentile Ferragamo designs the women’s rtw.
Ferrucio Ferragamo, the eldest son, is the group chief executive officer.
Leonardo Ferragamo heads development of company stores in Europe and the Far East.
Fulvia Ferragamo Visconti designs silk accessories and costume jewelry. She also helps develop printed fabrics and jacquards, and is based in Milan, near Como, the traditional fabric mecca of Italy.
There is an image committee, Massimo Ferragamo said, which meets weekly and makes major decisions about the direction of products, fashion and marketing.
“Generally, the meetings are very civilized — no one comes out with bruises,” Ferragamo joked. “Any image of this company that you see on the outside already has been carefully screened.”
Ferragamo said the rtw, shown twice a year in Milan, has an updated look, but is not too trendy.
All the products are characterized by the use of certain hardware or buttons. Ultimately, the family is what drives the business, said Ferragamo: “We have the wonderful example of my mother and father to guide us.” He added that the siblings all get along well, but that they are all so busy in their various departments that they are not with each other continuously.
“Either it works or it doesn’t,” he said. “And just because it works in this generation doesn’t mean it will work in the next. We can have discussions, disagreements, arguments — but we all know that safeguarding the company and the unity of the family is more important than any individual interest.”
The spouses of the six Ferragamos are not involved in the business — a rule Wanda established from the start.
There are 19 grandchildren of Salvatore and Wanda Ferragamo. Massimo Ferragamo said none of them are involved in the business yet, but, “they will be welcome — once they prove themselves. There is no guarantee. This is a business, it is not a party.”