MILAN — The year 2011 will close with a bang for Brunello Cucinelli, and the entrepreneur is giving back with an announcement today of a donation to help restore the famed Etruscan Arch in Perugia, Italy.
“It’s always been in my nature to take an important part of profits and destine them for humanitarian projects,” Cucinelli told WWD. Indeed, Cucinelli bought a 14th-century castle and surroundings in Solomeo, in Italy’s central region of Umbria, in 1985 and restored it over the next 23 years to provide an environment for the company’s workers there. In 2008, he unveiled a new theater complex, followed last year by a library.
“I believe in capitalism, and as an entrepreneur, I must turn a profit, but I would like to do it without damaging mankind,” he explained. “A part [of profits] goes to make the company stronger, a part to Brunello, a part to the workers and a part to make the world more beautiful. This is our culture,” he said, adding that his employees can feel like “custodians” of the sites Cucinelli supports, just as he does.
Cucinelli will donate 1 million euros, or $1.4 million at current exchange, to help restore the monument, also known as the Arch of Augustus, which dates back to the third century B.C. and is one of the symbols of the city as the main gate into the north side of the historic center. Perugia is located about 10 miles from Solomeo.
“I am very, very connected to Italy and my territory, Umbria and my country, and I am fascinated by the Etruscan people and the Romans. I’m very happy to be involved — this is the most important monument in the city,” he said.
Gauging the rest of the year, Cucinelli said he expects the luxury apparel company to close 2011 with a 65.1 percent gain in net profits, reaching 30 million euros, or $42.2 million, compared with last year.
Revenues are expected to total 245 million euros, or $344.7 million, up 20.6 percent from 2010.
His goal now is to take his company public in the spring. “We want to be ready and prepared by then, but we will see what the market is like at that moment,” he said. The company has tapped Mediobanca and Merrill Lynch as joint global coordinators of the operation. Cucinelli is thinking of an initial public offering in Milan. “I am Italian, and I want to list in my country,” he said, noting that he will probably put one-third of the family-owned firm on the market.
“I would like to do my job all of my life. I’m 58 and I have two daughters, aged 20 and 28. Ownership is inherited, but not the management of a company. If they will be able to manage it, they will; if not, there will be someone who can do it,” he said.
A listing will allow the company to “be more visible at an international level and attract talented managers,” he added. And, if stronger financially, it will be able to “tackle growth in emerging markets in a faster way.”