MILAN — Michele Norsa barely paused between leaving his old job at Valentino Fashion Group SpA and taking on his new duties at Salvatore Ferragamo Italia SpA.
"On Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. I was in the Valentino offices. The next morning, which was a Sunday, I took the train down to Florence," Norsa told WWD in his first round of interviews since taking Ferragamo's reins. "Working in a new company stimulates you."
Norsa said it's too soon to outline a comprehensive strategy for the company, which turns 80 next year. But the executive, clad in a wide pinstriped suit and a raspberry-hued tie, did divulge some of his initial impressions and priorities for Ferragamo. These include expanding into new markets; rolling out more focused, eye-catching advertising campaigns, and introducing more accountability into the corporate culture.
Ferragamo is planning to go public at some undefined point in the future, part of a broader solution to resolve a complex succession issue for the 40-plus member family. When pressed for a time frame, Norsa said he couldn't rule out the possibility of an initial public offering as early as next year, but he stressed that it's up to the shareholders to decide and there is no urgency since the company doesn't need funds. In the meantime, he wants to run the company as if it already were listed on the stock market.
"Public companies have a different way of working," said Norsa who, before Valentino, worked at several other public companies, namely Valentino FG, Marzotto and Benetton. "The stock market requires a discipline in terms of numbers, time frames and communications. It's a good school [of management]….I hope to bring this culture into Ferragamo."
On just that note, he gave an update on the business so far. Norsa said Ferragamo's sales through September are up "slightly more" than 10 percent and are expected to keep that pace through the end of the year. He declined to give a profit forecast. He is in the process of planning the company's budget for next year.
Last year, Ferragamo's sales rose 12 percent to 575 million euros, or $718.8 million. Net profit was 39.2 million euros, or $49 million.
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