By  on September 7, 2009

NEW YORK — Italian luxury clothing label Brioni on Monday named company veteran Todd Barrato executive vice president and chief operating officer of its U.S. operations and ruled out selling a minority stake this year.

Barrato, 38, who has been with the firm for 14 years, most recently as executive vice president and managing director of North American wholesale, will now also oversee Brioni’s retail business in the U.S. He reports to Brioni chief executive officer Andrea Perrone.

“Uniting the wholesale and retail divisions under one umbrella will strengthen Brioni’s brand image and positioning in the U.S.,” Barrato said in a telephone interview.

After hiring BNP Paribas in November last year to manage the sale of a minority stake to ease debts and fund development, Perrone said Brioni was “still open to offers” and “still receiving them from the market,” but ruled out selling a holding in the family-run firm in 2009.

“We are concentrating on the business right now,” Perrone said. “Our current focus is on doing what we can to improve 2009, mitigate the effects of the crisis and set a new course through 2012.”

He added that the company did not need additional capital to finance its expansion plans over the next 15 months, which include new stores in Barcelona and Shanghai before the end of this year and units in Düsseldorf, North China and the Middle East in 2010.

“Our plan is to open three to four stores per year over the next three to five years,” Perrone said, highlighting that the company hoped to build its retail network in China to eight to 10 boutiques from three currently.

For the year ended Dec. 31, Brioni posted a 3 percent drop in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to 32 million euros, or $47.1 million, on sales which were flat at around 206.5 million euros, or $303.8 million.

Also Monday, Brioni named Heather Shimokawa director of public relations in the U.S., a new position in which she will manage communications for men’s wear, women’s wear and celebrity dressing. Shimokawa joins from Best Life magazine, where she was fashion editor and has also worked at Rolling Stone and Men’s Journal.

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