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The Plan for Pal Zileri

New ceo Paolo Roviera has a clear-cut strategy for the brand’s path, and one of his top priorities is to streamline the six collections into two.

MILAN — Pal Zileri’s new chief executive officer Paolo Roviera has a clear-cut strategy for the brand’s path, and one of his top priorities is to streamline the six collections into two — the signature line and the younger Lab.

This story first appeared in the June 25, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“The company can rely on a solid product base, know-how, very high quality and specialized skills,” said Roviera at the brand’s presentation in Milan on Sunday, in his first interview after being tapped to head the Italian men’s wear firm earlier this month. “However, we need to be more consistent with our marketing and distribution. We need to initiate scientific merchandising, consistent with the objectives of the brand, and communicate with the customer.” The young executive believes brand equity has “been diluted” in time in an effort “to keep the company alive,” and by “a distracting battle on price.” Roviera is aiming at clearly identifying Pal Zileri with a consistent image and differentiating it from Lab so that the latter is not perceived as “a cheaper version of the other.”

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In the Eighties, Forall Confezioni SpA, which produces Pal Zileri and also holds licenses for Moschino and Cerruti 1881, collaborated with Luciano Soprani, Verri, Antonio Fusco, Krizia, Trussardi and Moschino to produce and distribute their men’s lines. The company went on to expand in the Nineties and developed Pal Zileri into a classic, highly crafted brand that employs top fabrics ranging from cashmere and guanaco to vicuna and is available in more than 70 countries. The brand has evolved to include a bespoke collection, Lab, a more informal line called Concept, and accessories and fragrances.

Mayhoola for Investments, an investment vehicle backed by a private investor group from Qatar, which also controls Valentino, acquired a majority stake in Forall in February. Founded in 1970, the Quinto Vicentino, Italy-based Pal Zileri was previously owned by a group of Italian entrepreneurs, including the Barizza, Bellet, Miola and Ghiringhelli families, along with the Egyptian Arafa Holding.

Forall closed 2013 with sales of 140 million euros, or $184.8 million at current exchange. Italy accounted for about 25 percent of total revenues.

There are two production units, in Quinto Vicentino and Sarcedo a Vicenza, Italy, and the company has more than 850 employees.

Sounding upbeat about his relationship with the owners, Roviera, a former Ermenegildo Zegna group executive, said he is working on a three- to five-year business plan, noting that parent firm Mayhoola has “no idea of an immediate cash-out.” There are plans to set up new headquarters and also to invest in retail. The brand’s store network counts around 30 directly operated stores, but Roviera said the brand lacks “a strong retail culture and a real image.” That said, together with Stefano Gaudioso, the company’s newly appointed general merchandising manager, Roviera is working on branding first to create equity and then focus on retail.

“We will start from staple cities: Milan, Paris, London, New York, Dubai and Moscow,” said Roviera, citing Italy, Russia and the Middle East as the brand’s main markets now.

While he noted that Stefano Sassi, ceo of Valentino, is a member of the board of the group, Roviera did not know if Mayhoola was considering production synergies for Valentino. Roviera underscored that Mayhoola “did not buy [Pal Zileri] as an industrial platform,” but to develop the brand.