MILAN — IT Holding’s restructuring of Gianfranco Ferré is in full swing.

During a Merrill Lynch conference here, IT Holding’s chairman and chief executive, Tonino Perna, said it plans to discontinue the Gieffeffe, Gianfranco Ferré Studio, Jeans and Forma lines next year, and launch a new line simply called Ferré.

Perna described Ferré as a "translation of [the] Ferré world into top young fashion." He said the line will have broader distribution than the signature line, which he said was "top-tier prêt à porter for sophisticated high spenders." IT Holding took control of the designer’s company in December 2000. Perna compared Ferré to Versus and D&G, which retail at around 30 percent less than Versace and Dolce & Gabbana, respectively, and are licensed to Ittierre, owned by IT Holding.

"Ferré will be in line with the other collections produced by Ittierre," Perna said. The first Ferré collection will be presented in Milan in June 2003.

The Studio and Forma lines were launched in 1986 and 1987, respectively, produced and distributed by Marzotto. Gieffeffe, also licensed to Marzotto, bowed for fall 1996. It was no secret IT Holding wanted to take production of these collections in-house in 2003, when the licenses expire, but the news of a project to terminate the lines altogether came as somewhat of a surprise on Thursday.

"There was too much confusion [with these lines]," said Perna in a break during the conference. A spokesman for the company noted IT Holding will not terminate the licenses with Marzotto before their expiration dates, which are in the middle of next year.

Perna said IT Holding is developing a concept store to present the new line, with a refurbished string of Ferré Jeans boutiques and distribution in about 30 percent of the existing 1,000 Gieffeffe accounts and 40 percent of the 5,000 IT Holding accounts.

At the same time, new Gianfranco Ferré concept stores will open in Paris next month and in Capri by 2003. By 2004, the Milan, New York, Porto Cervo, Cannes, London, Los Angeles and Bal Harbor boutiques will all be renovatedafter this model.

Perna said IT Holding plans to set up a new company for production of top-quality shoes and accessories for the group’s brands, which will be named ITP. "We are looking at laboratories in the Tuscan area, where there is the best workmanship in the sector," Perna said. Perna also wants to create a category company called ITH Home. By the end of next year, ITH will produce a home collection for Gianfranco Ferré. In 2004, this designer line will also list a fur line and an exclusive jewelry collection.In 2001, Gianfranco Ferré wholesale volume was $226.8 million, and sales derived from royalties amounted to $19.7 million (dollars are converted from euros at current exchange rates.)

Perna said he expects group sales of $670 million in 2002 and a 14 percent growth in three years.

IT Holding also owns Romeo Gigli, Malo, Gentryportofino and Exté.

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