MILAN — Furla will mark its 90th anniversary next year and president Giovanna Furlanetto is eyeing more milestones — even, possibly, “immortality” for the company founded by her father, Aldo, in 1927.
“I have to think of the 1,600 people working in Furla and its shareholders, to make sure the company that I unconditionally love will have a future,” Furlanetto told WWD on Tuesday, discussing a 28 percent increase in Furla’s revenues in the first half.
The soft-spoken and razor-sharp entrepreneur took the time to elaborate on the agreement revealed in May with TIP Tamburi Investment Partners SpA to head toward an initial public offering, expressing her desire to guarantee that her family, who owns the company, will be flanked by quality executives. Furlanetto’s two sons and her brother Carlo’s four children are shareholders, but hold no operative roles in Furla.
Cases in point, Furlanetto said Moncler executive and former Hermès veteran Christian Blanckaert had joined Furla’s renewed board, together with Giovanni Tamburi and Alessandra Gritti, president and chief executive officer of TIP, respectively. “They enrich our board and will bring their vision and experience, supporting our management’s choices. This is one of the most important aspects for me,” Furlanetto said.
The agreement with TIP was inked shortly before longtime Furla ceo Eraldo Poletto left to assume the same role at Salvatore Ferragamo earlier this month, but Furlanetto appeared to be in no hurry to replace the executive and shied away from any increased personal involvement. “The decision is to grow those within the existing team offering them priorities and opportunities, rather than to bring in people from outside,” she said, emphasizing the increased mandates of general director Alberto Camerlengo, who worked with Poletto for several years.
“We had been mentally preparing for the Bourse for some time, spinning off our real estate and in terms of company reports. Alberto can confirm we have been handling figures with accuracy and precision preparing to respond to the market,” continued Furlanetto. “With TIP, we fine-tuned a very innovative contract because there was no negotiation on the valuation of the company to sell a percentage of the company.”
As reported, Tamburi said TIP will first invest 15 million euros, or $16.7 million at current exchange, to issue a convertible loan for a capital increase, which will be automatically swapped into Furla shares at the future listing. TIP is committed to underwrite an additional 15 million euros on the day of the listing under the same economic conditions offered to the market. A further quota of shares will be allotted to TIP and sources estimate another 15 million to 30 million euros, or $16.7 million to $33.5 million, will be paid then.
Furlanetto underscored TIP’s track record and experience in helping companies on their path to publicly list, as it did with Moncler. The Marzotto, Loro Piana and Ferragamo families are among the investors in TIP, which also has investments in Hugo Boss and Ferrari. Furlanetto said TIP “aggregates 100 of the most important entrepreneurial families, allocating part of their savings in Italian companies, backing them to grow them. I think this is ethically very valid and financially solid given the incredible performances and returns in the past five or six years.”
Furla is looking at floating 25 to 30 percent of the company by 2018, but details are still being defined. “We could be ready even before that, but we have to consider market conditions. We are in no rush and we have no debt,” Furlanetto noted.
To be sure, the Italian accessories company continues to log in growth in all markets. In the first six months of the year, Furla revenues rose 28 percent to 194 million euros, or $217.3 million, compared with 151 million euros, or $167.6 million, in 2015. Touting a “homogenous” distribution and Furla’s “flexibility in catching new opportunities,” Camerlengo highlighted the brand’s quality and price ratio and in-store customer experience. Furlanetto pointed to “five-star” store locations that have helped increase brand awareness, and the importance of Made in Italy products — “not so common in the premium range.”
Dollar figures were converted at average exchange rates for the periods they refer.
The company has 425 stores, compared with 415 at the end of 2015, and 1,200 points of sale, in more than 100 countries. Furla recently opened boutiques in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Moscow and Nice, France, and plans to open units on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honorè in Paris on Sept. 16 and in London’s Brompton Road in October. The company has been investing in the renovation of its stores, modeled after the Milan Piazza Duomo banner, and by next year, all will have been renewed. In October, Furla will unveil a newly renovated boutique at Gum in Moscow, with a dinner event.
The company has been growing the size of its stores to help display the increasing product range, such as men’s accessories and shoes. “We continue to fuel the stores with more focused products,” said Furlanetto, citing the recent opening of a Rome flagship near the Spanish Steps, for example. She also highlighted the “requalification” of distribution in Italy, from multibrand to specialty stores, where Furla products are displayed together with luxury accessories, and an increased “harmonization” of prices globally.
Japan continues to be the company’s main market, representing 26 percent of sales, and growing 30 percent in the first half. Sales in the U.S. also rose 30 percent, and Europe was up 26 percent. Revenues in Italy gained almost 34 percent and sales in Asia-Pacific increased 22 percent, reaching almost 20 percent of the total.
The travel retail channel rose 38 percent, totaling 223 points of sale in 52 countries. “This is a tremendous marketing tool that helps us to be more visible and open new markets,” Camerlengo said.