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Furla Taps Paolo Fontanelli as CEO

Furla said Monday it has appointed Paolo Fontanelli, formerly chief financial officer of Giorgio Armani SpA, as its chief executive officer.

MILAN — Furla said Monday it has appointed Paolo Fontanelli, formerly chief financial officer of Giorgio Armani SpA, as its chief executive officer.

Furla’s ceo post was previously held by Giovanna Furlanetto, who will remain chairman of the company. Furlanetto, daughter of founder Aldo Furlanetto, said in June that, by 2011, she plans to double the company’s sales, and open or update 56 directly owned boutiques and 60 franchised stores. Sales in 2007 at the accessories company are expected to grow 16 percent compared with last year, reaching 150 million euros, or $202.8 million at current exchange.

Furla will mark its 80th anniversary this year with an exhibition at Tokyo’s Museum of Contemporary Art, or MOT, in the fall, and a project, Retail Design Hub, that Furlanetto hopes will help her add innovative design content to the company’s collections of handbags and shoes. In particular, Furlanetto hopes to boost the footwear division, which currently accounts for 8 percent of sales, with more fashion-oriented collections. Furlanetto said she expects the division to account for 20 percent of revenues in two seasons and that she has already identified three designers who will help her achieve this goal: two Americans and one Russian. The designers were spotted by the talent contest “Who Is on Next?” supported by Vogue Italia and Alta Roma, which organizes couture shows in Rome.

Furlanetto declined to reveal the names of the designers, as they will be featured in Vogue Italia in September and products will be shown during Milan Fashion Week that month. According to sources, however, the Russian designer is Max Kibardin, a former model and architect, and the Americans are Nicole Brundage and Courtney Crawford. Brundage has worked with Giorgio Armani and Manolo Blahnik, while Crawford already counts celebrities such as Mariah Carey and Kate Moss as his customers. The designers have their own footwear lines but will expand into handbags for Furla.

“We allow these designers to have more visibility through our retail network and they add innovative designs to our products. We are so enthusiastic about this project, which we hope will open our products to multibrand points of sale and high-end department stores,” said Furlanetto.

Furla has 225 stores worldwide. The labels will feature the name of the designer for Furla. The collaborations will last “at least two seasons, but hopefully longer,” said Furlanetto.

There is no set length for the collaborations, nor is there a set number of designers eventually to be selected under the program. “We wanted a fresh, international take on our products,” said Furlanetto, adding she was working on a new design concept for the 15 to 20 stores that will carry these products.