MILAN — What are a couple of decades of financial troubles when you can rely on a history that spans over 245 years?
Pineider was on the brink of liquidation when two years ago the Rovagnati family took control of the stationery company. In an interview at the brand’s showroom in tony Via Montenapoleone here, managing director Giuseppe Rossi, who hails from brands including Calvin Klein, Moschino, Cerruti and Ballantyne, is spearheading a strategy that rests on the pillars of writing paper, luxury pens and leather goods, and expert production brought back to Florence.
“The Rovagnatis are proud of Pineider’s Italian history and craftsmanship,” said Rossi of the owners, known for their Lombardy-based company that specializes in high-quality cooked ham. “They are interested in diversifying and appreciate fine art and culture,” said Rossi, pointing to the family’s beautiful medieval Castelguelfo manor near Parma.
Pineider “has accompanied the life of the likes of Napoleon, Stendhal, Gabriele D’Annunzio,” said Rossi, or in more recent times, Sting and Luciano Pavarotti, to name a few. A tale is told of Elizabeth Taylor using special paper in a color made to match her eyes.
A travel desk set was given as a gift to the leaders of the G8 meeting in Italy, and Pineider was the official supplier. “The travel desk is a cult object but we have adapted it to modern times,” explained Rossi, showing a functional, essential and feather-light yet luxurious tumbled leather zip-around case. Retailing at around 1,000 euros, the travel desk can store all that is necessary for any working day or business meeting, from a Powerbook, cards and glasses to coins, keys — and pens and papers.
“We have no intention of entering the realm of fashion, these are non-seasonal items,” said Rossi. However, totes, small leather goods and pouches are also available although he is careful not to dilute the offer. “Consistency and focus are key,” he said.
Rossi has been rebuilding the organization and network of suppliers. Presenting at Pitti Uomo, he sees that brand awareness remains high.
The brand is available at the likes of Isetan in Tokyo; Bergdorf Goodman; Liberty and Selfridges; SKP in Beijing; Beymen in Istanbul; Rinascente in Milan, Rome, Turin and Florence; at Luisa Via Roma; Mr Porter, and Moda Operandi, to name a few.
There are two stores in Rome and Florence, and Rossi was tasked with finding a location and opening a unit in Milan, possibly in the Via Manzoni area and expected to open in the first quarter of next year.
After a year of investment, the managing director said he expected to report sales of between 3.5 million and 4 million euros in 2019.
The U.S. is the second-largest market for Pineider, said Rossi. “Our goal is to be relevant in the markets, we want to be visible. Our customer has not gone away and there is nobody else that offers our three pillars at the same time,” he contended.
Pineider’s papers and printed letters are characterized by water or machine fraying, lineation, watermarks and manual brushing to obtain coloring of the edges in accordance with a storied Florentine tradition. The papers are free of chlorine and acidic substances and the coloring is made with natural pigments.
Eye-catching and precious, the Gemstone pens are made with resins that are mixed so that each is entirely unique. The Honeycomb pen is made with galvanized titanium and is available with a 14-carat nib.