Sergio Rossi’s new owner is banking on the experience of fashion executive Andrea Morante to help reshape the course of the Italian luxury footwear company. European investment house Investindustrial, which in December took control of Sergio Rossi from Kering, has tapped Morante as president of the firm.
At the end of last year, Morante left his role of chief executive officer of Italian jewelry company Pomellato, which he had joined in 2009. Morante’s résumé includes jobs in London as an investment banker at both Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley, and at Gucci, were he helped restructure the luxury goods house under Investcorp, later becoming chief operating officer.
“I am sure that we can put in place a turnaround of the brand in such a relevant sector as shoes — a segment even more significant for Italy,” Morante told WWD. “There are business opportunities that can be developed by injecting new life into the brand, a new impetus, vision and direction, leveraging a strong brand awareness in regions such as America, Europe and Japan. This could become a case study.”
The executive trumpeted a “strong demand for women’s shoes for the next three to five years.” To be sure, according to the latest Fondazione Altagamma and Bain & Co. 2015 Worldwide Markets Monitor presented in October, shoes are with jewelry “clear market winners” in 2015, “confirming a positive trend started in 2013 outpacing leather goods as the status symbol thanks to sweet-spot price positioning.” The study notes that shoes in 2015 are expected to generate revenues of 16 billion euros, or $17.3 billion at current exchange, in 2015, a 16 percent gain compared with the previous year. At constant exchange, sales are up 4 percent.
Angelo Ruggeri, who was named creative director of the brand in 2013, succeeding Francesco Ruffo, continues to hold this role, said Morante. “A relaunch is based on the appreciation of the existing resources — Gucci proves it,” said Morante, referring to the promotion of Alessandro Michele at the top design post last year. “It may seem easier to change everything, but, on the contrary, we must enhance [a company’s] resources.”
Sergio Rossi continues to rely “on a very important production center,” in San Mauro Pascoli, said Morante of the state-of-the-art factory in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, one of the country’s leather goods hubs.“The turnaround is not based on cost reduction, but revenue generation,” explained Morante.
The company has more than 80 stores — both directly operated and franchises — mainly in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, the U.S., Southeast Asia and Japan, along with wholesale distribution to such retailers as Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, Lane Crawford and Harrods.
Investindustrial was founded by Italian financier Andrea C. Bonomi and has stakes in Aston Martin, B&B Italia and luxury lighting firm Flos, among otheres. “They favor alternative operations in the high-end segment,” remarked Morante.
Asked to comment on the performance of Sergio Rossi over the past few years as it struggled to stand out in the Kering stable, one industry observer noted a “lack of consistent vision and strategies once the [Rossi] family left the company.” The brand was founded by shoemaker Sergio Rossi in the Fifties. Gucci Group, which has since been folded into Kering, snapped up a majority stake in the brand in 1999 during an aggressive acquisitions drive masterminded by Domenico De Sole and Tom Ford. The group eventually took full control in 2004.
According to a Barclays’ estimate last year, Sergio Rossi’s revenues were pegged at about 71 million euros, or approximately $95 million.
Financial sources have pegged the selling price at between 40 million and 50 million euros, or $43.8 million and $54.8 million.