Il Bisonte Heritage collection

MILAN — Il Bisonte expects to return to growth in 2021.

The Florence-based accessories brand, which earlier this month celebrated its 50th anniversary with an event staged in Florence during Pitti Uomo, sees great potential in the U.S. market in particular.

According to chief executive officer Luigi Ceccon, the company, which closed 2020 with sales down 25 percent to 27 million euros compared to 2019, expects to generate revenues of 30 million euros in 2021, up 11 percent compared to last year.

Despite the decrease in revenues in 2020, Ceccon highlighted that Il Bisonte succeeded at reducing by 60 percent its net debt to 2 million euros. “This was possible even if we continued to invest,” said Ceccon, who revealed that between 2020 and 2021 the company allocated 2 million euros to boost its digital transformation.

Supported by its parent company, Look Holdings Inc. that is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and that acquired the label in 2019 from the Palamon Capital Partners private equity, Il Bisonte is also reorganizing its structure to meet the needs of the digital world. “We made strategic appointments across all the departments, but the focus has been on tapping digital-native professionals,” said Ceccon.

Operating a network of 49 stores in Japan, as well as a few flagships across Europe and the U.S., including a boutique on New York’s Bleecker Street, Il Bisonte is trying to boost its online business that last year accounted for 7 percent of the brand’s total sales. “Fifty percent of the e-commerce sales were made in the United States,” said Ceccon, adding that the label recently entered leading U.S. department stores, including Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Il Bisonte tre installation in Florence

Il Bisonte tre installation in Florence.  Courtesy of Il Bisonte

While the U.S. accounts for between 5 and 6 percent of the brand’s total business, Japan is Il Bisonte’s leading market, accounting for more than 50 percent of its turnover.

“The goal now is to expand in the Western world, across the United States and Europe,” said Ceccon, who also sees good potential in the men’s division. “Our business is now focused on women’s bags, but we think there are interesting opportunities in the men’s segment,” he said, highlighting that the company is creatively evolving its heritage line and its more contemporary offering. Il Bisonte’s signature vegetable-tanned leather pieces are manufactured through a supply chain located within 18 miles around Florence.

In keeping with the company’s focus on sustainability, Il Bisonte took part in the celebrations for the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death by donating to the city of Florence a permanent star-shaped tree installation conceived by artist Felice Limosani. Located in the San Donato Park in Florence’s Novoli district, the installation, including 50 30-year-old willow oak trees, will contribute to reducing pollution in the city.

“This project was inspired by the story of Yacouba Sawadogo, one of the United Nations’ Champions of the Earth 2020, who successfully planted trees in the desert in Burkina Faso,” said Ceccon. “We have been really impressed by his story and we wanted to give our small contribution to the sustainable cause.”

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