MILAN — After years of speculation, Furla SpA said Monday it has set in motion plans to go public.
The Bologna-based accessories firm has reached an agreement with TIP Tamburi Investment Partners SpA to head toward an initial public offering either next year or in 2018 at the latest, depending on market conditions. The Marzotto, Loro Piana and Ferragamo families are among the investors in TIP, which also has investments in Hugo Boss and Ferrari.
Market sources say Furla is looking at floating between 25 and 30 percent of its shares.
“Furla SpA shareholders will convene in the short term to the company’s governing bodies for the capital increase to service the issue of a bond that will be automatically converted into Furla SpA shares with the company’s future IPO, mutually decided within the operation underwritten and announced today,” said the company.
Giovanna Furlanetto, president of the family-owned Furla, said she was “very happy with the step that the company has taken, opening up to the contribution of highly qualified and ethical professionals, in order to become stronger and more competitive globally to pursue the future growth its heritage deserves.”
Furlanetto continued: “I am especially happy for the management and all the employees that will be able to take part in this growth, which they fully deserve for all the important developments they have until now contributed to.”
Giovanni Tamburi, president and chief executive officer of TIP, said he was “particularly proud of this operation, which links us to one of the most prestigious Italian entrepreneurial excellences, a brand recognized worldwide, which has decided to undertake its IPO with us to further accelerate its already remarkable growth, both in terms of sales and of profitability. We therefore very much thank the Furlanetto family that — even if without a specific need — wanted us standing alongside.”
Tamburi said TIP will first invest 15 million euros, or $17.1 million at current exchange, to issue a convertible loan for the capital increase, which will be automatically swapped into Furla shares at the future listing. TIP is committed to underwrite an additional 15 million euros on the day of the listing at the same economic conditions offered to the market.
A further quota of shares will be allotted to TIP and sources estimate another 15 million to 30 million euros, or $17.1 million to 34.3 million, will be paid then.
Asked for the reasons for investing in Furla, Tamburi said, “It’s one of the most beautiful brands around, it has an international standing, it’s growing well. Mrs. Furlanetto is an exceptional entrepreneur and the label has a great positioning. Studies say that the premium luxury range is expected to further grow in the future. We strongly believe in this brand and its potential.”
While Furla is a healthy and cash-rich company, it has an ambitious retail plan, with openings this year including cities such as Paris, London and Shanghai.
A Milan-based source said Furlanetto turned to TIP because she was “looking for who would be in line with her family’s company’s strategy rather than banks and unknown market investors.”
Tamburi is one of Italy’s highest-profile investors. TIP in 2014 closed a fund-raising initiative through its new Tipo branch, taking minority stakes in medium-size Italian companies to help them grow, acting as a figurative “glue,” Giovanni Tamburi told WWD earlier this year. In 2013, TIP invested in Remo Ruffini’s holding company, Ruffini Partecipazioni, indirectly buying a stake in Moncler, which went public at the end of 2013. In 2014, it purchased shares in giant cosmetics firm Intercos before the latter shelved its planned IPO, and also became a shareholder in food chain Eataly.
Under Furlanetto’s watch and that of ceo Eraldo Poletto, Furla has been logging solid growth season after season. Revenues have grown 126 percent since 2010. In 2015, despite a challenging market for accessories, the Italian firm recorded a 30 percent increase in revenues to 339 million euros, or $376.3 million, at average exchange rate. Growth was registered across all areas and all channels, with an increase of 23 percent in like-for-like sales.
Last year, Furla continued to expand its retail network globally with the opening of 62 stores, bringing its monobrand boutiques to a total of 415. Furla’s performance last year was also boosted by the brand’s new categories — a men’s line, women’s footwear and the eyewear license with De Rigo. Furla has also signed licensing agreements with Ratti and Morellato for textile accessories and watches, respectively.
In light of the constant growth of the company, rumors about a possible IPO have continually surfaced. Only in February, Poletto said that no steps had been taken to list on the stock market. Separately, rumors about Poletto leaving the company continue to swirl in Milan. Sources have linked Poletto to Ferragamo following the news that ceo Michele Norsa will exit the Florence-based group by the end of the year. Poletto has declined to comment on the speculation.
Furla next year will mark 90 years in business as it was founded in Bologna in 1927 by Aldo Furlanetto, Giovanna’s father.