MILAN — Furla’s “magic moment,” a definition favored by chief executive officer Eraldo Poletto, shows no signs of slowing.
Leveraging growth in all its main markets, the Italian accessories company saw revenues rise 30 percent to 151. 5 million euros, or $177.2 million at average exchange rate, in the six months ended June 30, compared with the same period last year. The company did not provide earnings figures.
For the first time, Poletto decided to reveal first half financial results for Furla, which is privately owned by the Furlanetto family. Asked if this was a sign of a new path for the company, such as a pending initial public offering, Poletto told WWD that it is a way “to train us to think and operate as a public company, so that, if one day shareholders will want to go public, the company is prepared.” He stressed that, at the moment, “no steps have been taken” to enter the stock market. Nor did Poletto hint at potential investors, as Furla’s expansion continues to be self-financed.
The executive credited the team’s “hard work,” Furla’s supply chain, stores, marketing and communication for the performance. He acknowledged “a slowdown in luxury. We go against stream, and there are opportunities in the premium luxury segment.” He said the company looks at the luxury segment for its positive elements — “creativity, store environment, customer service” — but aims at a lower price that elicits “surprise, in light of the all around quality.”
The Bologna, Italy-based firm opened 39 stores in the first half, primarily in Europe, followed by Asia-Pacific, the U.S. and Japan, bringing the number of total units to 437.
Furla opened a boutique in Singapore last month, and has just unveiled a flagship on New York’s Fifth Avenue and in Tokyo’s Ginza. A unit near Rome’s Spanish Steps will open in November, followed by a banner in Hong Kong in December, one in Shanghai in the first quarter of 2016, and a unit in London in the first half of next year.
Poletto admitted he is “obsessed” with “the magical number” of like-for-like sales, which also showed gains in the first half, rising 22 percent and accounting for 65 percent of total revenues.
In the first half, exports represented 80 percent of total sales, led by Japan, the company’s largest market, which accounts for 25 percent of total revenues. Sales in Japan rose 19 percent in the period. “In Japan, we doubled sales from 2010 to 2014,” said Poletto, noting that Furla first entered the market 25 years ago. He pointed to the innovative facade of the Ginza store, with “30,000 small tiles that move with the wind,” similar to the Mandalay Bay unit in Singapore.
In the first six months, sales in the Asia-Pacific region climbed 71 percent; Europe gained 29 percent, while Italy was up 18 percent. Sales in the U.S. increased 28 percent and accounted for 9 percent of the total. Poletto characterized the Fifth Avenue opening as “a crucial step in such a prestigious address that allows us to be located near top players, raising our image and positioning.” The executive said the U.S. “is a strategic priority,” lamenting the loss of the previous location. “We did not choose to leave and we were away from New York for two years, but it’s not banal to find the right location.”
The Manhattan flagship is an evolution of the Milan store concept, inspired by Furla’s headquarters in an 18th-century villa outside Bologna. Main elements include rosewood and Italian travertine marble, iridescent glass and brass finishings.
Furla has created a limited-edition Fifth Avenue collection of bags, small leather goods and accessories with prints inspired by New York, from its skyline to its graffiti, exclusively available at the new store.
Just as several retailers are reining in the number of store openings, Poletto said Furla’s retail strategy has been set in motion over the last several years, with the goal to be present in significant cities throughout the world but never aiming for “huge” stores. “We have not accelerated this expansion,” said Poletto, defining it as “cautiously aggressive” overbalanced markets. “This is a great opportunity given us by the times.”
The brand is available in 100 countries and is carried by more than 1,100 multibrand stores.
Travel retail sales also showed an increase in the first half, climbing 69 percent.
As reported, for full-year 2014, sales totaled 262 million euros, or $348.4 million at average exchange, up 13 percent compared with 2013.
Poletto said he expects “future growth, fueled by both the consolidated success of existing lines as well as by the new categories that we are implementing with the same determination and acumen.” Furla has been developing men’s accessories and a footwear division.