By  on January 9, 2002

MILAN -- A few weeks after taking control of Fendi, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton has tapped the Italian manager Giancarlo Di Risio as the brand's new chief executive.

He starts his new job next month.

The post was formerly held by Patrizio Bertelli, head of Prada Group, who sold his 25.5 percent stake in the Roman fashion company to LVMH at the end of November and walked away with about $260 million.

"We are very happy about the arrival of our new chief executive," said Carla Fendi, president of Fendi, in a statement Tuesday.

In a phone interview with WWD, Di Risio added: "The label has a lot of potential and is well positioned on three continents -- Europe, the U.S. and Asia -- but we are still evaluating development possibilities."

While the Fendi sisters still hold 49 percent of the company, Di Risio was unfazed about possible family clashes, which have in the past created some management problems.

"This is a new era, with LVMH controlling the company, and my joining Fendi should be seen in this light," said Di Risio, who will work from the Rome headquarters. "I will be working with a group that is a leader in luxury goods. This is a great challenge for me."

Industry observers noted that Di Risio's qualifications are well suited for the time when Fendi will be consolidated and listed on the stock exchange as part of LVMH.

"Apart from Di Risio, there are not many managers in the fashion industry capable of taking a company public," said Carlo Pambianco, owner of a luxury goods consulting firm here.

As reported, in August Di Risio left his post as chief executive of IT Holding, which over 15 years he helped develop into a $430 million conglomerate and build a strong, well-organized management team, observers said. He orchestrated IT's listing on the Milan bourse in 1997.

Di Risio was a pioneer in launching designer jeans and young lines, signing licensing agreements with Versace and Dolce & Gabbana and later building a stable of luxury labels through an aggressive acquisition campaign. IT Holding today controls the clothing manufacturer Ittierre, Romeo Gigli, Gianfranco Ferre, Malo, Exte, Gentry Portofino and Husky."Di Risio is one of the best managers in the fashion industry," said Armando Branchini, vice president of InterCorporate, a luxury goods analyst. "He will bring a professional and very energetic contribution to Fendi." Branchini said that Fendi has recently gone through two phases: product development, with the international success of the baguette bag, followed by direct control of distribution and buy-back of licenses under the Bertelli management.

"Now, Fendi needs a manager who will deal will all business areas and who will work on every level, ranging from industrial production to distribution, from toning strategies to financing," said Branchini. "Di Risio will be able to draw from his experience at IT Holding to tackle these tasks."

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