MILAN — Eyes are on the new leaders expected to steer companies out of the doldrums caused by the coronavirus pandemic. How will they fare and what will their strategies be?

Salvatore Ferragamo at the end of May turned to a company veteran, Michele Norsa, to help its turnaround. The company’s exposure to China and to tourism, and the closure of stores during the lockdown in all of its main markets, weighed on its top line in the first half, despite cost-containment measures put in place, although the month of July showed improvements globally. Preliminary sales showed a 46.6 percent drop to 377 million euros in the first six months ended June 30. Norsa is no stranger to the Florence-based company, first joining it in 2006 and helping it to expand globally, publicly listing it in 2011 in his role as chief executive officer, and exiting in 2016. This time, he is back as director of the board and executive deputy chairman.

Micaela Le Divelec Lemmi remains Ferragamo’s ceo.

Norsa’s arrival also opened up new scenarios, as he is a partner in FSI, which in 2018 took a 41.2 percent stake in Missoni. Analysts, including Equita, observed that Maurizio Tamagnini, ceo of FSI, has in the past pointed to the fund as a possible aggregator of luxury brands, and that Ferragamo would fit in with this idea of a fashion conglomerate.

Meanwhile, Valentino also looked to an executive with knowledge of the company, Jacopo Venturini, who joined the fashion house as ceo in June and made his first public appearance at the brand’s fall couture event in Rome a month later. He succeeded Stefano Sassi, who had been leading the company since 2006. Venturini was previously executive vice president, merchandising and global markets at Gucci, a role he left in October 2019, but this is the third time he has circled back to Valentino. He first joined the company in 2000 as women’s wear and men’s wear brand manager until 2004, leaving for Prada a year later and then going back to Valentino in 2008 as ready-to-wear collection director and retail image director, staying on until 2015, when he joined Gucci. His luxury sensibility and experience in merchandising are expected to serve Valentino well.

Nobody can argue that Brunello Cucinelli has molded his namesake company in his humanistic image, so it will be interesting to see how the two new ceo’s he appointed in May will lead. While confirming his role as executive chairman and creative director, Cucinelli passed the ceo baton to Luca Lisandroni and Riccardo Stefanelli. Based at the company’s headquarters in Solomeo, Stefanelli is the husband of Cucinelli’s eldest daughter, Camilla, and has 14 years of experience within the company. He is in charge of product and operations. Lisandroni, based in Milan, joined four years ago from Luxottica and his role extends to markets.

Former Giorgio Armani Group veteran Livio Proli in May joined Missoni as ceo, but this is a new role for the company, with the company’s general director Emilio Carbonera Giani exiting.

Missoni has been building its organization and store count, with new stores in Florida and New York, and it has been expanding its product offer, with watches bowing this fall under a new license with Timex Group. This followed the signing of a renewable five-year licensing agreement with Safilo Group for the production and distribution of prescription eyewear and sunglass collections for Missoni and M Missoni.

The company has also been revamping the M Missoni brand, internalizing its production, while the creative direction is now being overseen by Margherita Maccapani Missoni, Angela Missoni’s daughter, who presented her first collection last September.

At the end of January, former Balmain ceo Massimo Piombini joined Diesel in the same role, succeeding Marco Agnolin. He joined a company that had been going through a period of restructuring, reorganization and streamlining and repositioning of its retail and wholesale channels and that showed the first signs of a turnaround last year.

The brand represents 60 percent of parent company OTB’s business, and in 2019, it returned to growth, posting a 2.6 percent increase in sales. OTB, which also comprises Maison Margiela, Marni, Viktor & Rolf and Amiri, as well as production arms Staff International and Brave Kid, last year returned to the black, reporting net profits of 2 million euros, compared with a net loss from recurring activities in 2018 of 26 million euros. The group’s sales were up 6.4 percent to 1.53 billion euros.

As the eyewear industry has been evolving with its own share of seismic changes, including the merger of Luxottica and Essilor, in June, Marcolin Group appointed a new ceo and general manager, Fabrizio Curci, succeeding Massimo Renon, who decamped to Benetton Group. 

Curci was previously ceo and general manager of Fiera Milano SpA, the organizer and host of international events and trade shows in Italy and worldwide since 1920. He has significant experience in the automotive industry, joining FCA — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Group — in 2007, where he worked for 10 years, becoming head of the Alfa Romeo brand for the EMEA region and head of Alfa Romeo Global Launch.

After the dust settles on the pandemic crisis, observers wonder if a listing could be in the cards for Marcolin, which produces and distributes eyewear for the likes of Tom FordMonclerAdidas Originals and Ermenegildo Zegna. While Curci does not hail from the eyewear industry, Fiera Milano, as well as FCA, are publicly listed companies.

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