Stone Island new store on Milan's Corso Matteotti

MILAN This year, Stone Island is taking Valentino’s top spot as the company with the most potential to publicly list, according to Milan-based consultancy Pambianco Strategie di Impresa.

Sportswear Company SpA, which owns Stone Island, jumped two positions in the 14th edition of Pambianco’s 2019 ranking of the “listable” companies in the fashion sector, followed by Golden Goose and Valentino.

Stone Island was founded in 1982 by Massimo Osti and is now controlled by chairman and creative director Carlo Rivetti. In 2017, Singapore-based fund Temasek bought a 30 percent stake in the sportswear company, which last year reported sales of 191 million euros, climbing 76.8 percent from 108 million euros in 2016 and an earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization margin of 29.8 percent.

The study analyzes the companies that have the economic financial and positioning characteristics to be listed in a range of three to five years, regardless of whether a listing is in the plans of the firm. To wit, Rivetti has never pointed to an initial public offering for Stone Island. David Pambianco, chief executive officer of Pambianco Strategie di Impresa, said being part of the list means certifying the companies’ “ability to produce value.”

As reported earlier this month, Golden Goose is the latest Italian brand at the center of merger and acquisition talk here and according to market sources, former Gucci creative designer Frida Giannini has been designing the brand’s ready-to-wear and accessories for several months.

The brand is helmed by ceo Silvio Campara and the role of chairman is held by Patrizio di Marco, who is Giannini’s husband and who joined the Marghera, Italy-based Golden Goose in September 2018, succeeding Marco De Benedetti, who remained a director and who is managing director and cohead of Carlyle’s Europe Buyout group, the label’s parent fund since 2017.

Sources told WWD that a “teaser dossier” has been presented to potential bidders and that seven to eight companies have shown some interest. These range from PVH Corp. and Permira to Advent and Ralph Lauren Corp., according to sources. Tapestry Inc., parent of Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman, has also expressed interest, one source said.

Its 2019 revenues are expected to reach $300 million, up from $205 million in 2018. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization are forecast to reach around $90 million in 2019, an increase from $51 million last year. According to a source, the plan is to reach sales of $510 million and EBITDA of around $160 million in 2022. The U.S is a strong market for Golden Goose and Carlyle also could be exploring an initial public offering on Wall Street, another source said. That would be the usual practice for private equity players seeking to realize their investments, since most engage in a dual-track process that examines an IPO and a sale at the same time — opting for whichever would give the biggest payout.

Valentino, which reported sales of 1.2 billion euros last year and has been controlled by the Qatar-based fund Mayhoola since 2012, has put a listing on hold, after mulling an IPO starting in 2016.

The Rome-based couture house was followed by Furla, which last year ranked second, and which in May 2016 set in motion plans to go public, inking an agreement with TIP Tamburi Investment Partners SpA. However, an IPO has not been on the agenda since Oct. 2018, according to ceo Alberto Camerlengo. The Max Mara Group ranked fifth, followed by Dolce & Gabbana. The Giorgio Armani Group, which ranked fifth last year, is now in seventh position, but the namesake designer in 2016 set up a Foundation to ensure a future to his group, reiterating his wish to remain independent and waving away any interest in a sale or a public listing.

Another company that has long stayed away from the Bourse is the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, which ranked 11th, followed by contemporary label Liu Jo, founded by Italian entrepreneur Marco Marchi. Earlier this month, Marchi acquired Blufin, the company operating the Blumarine, Blugirl, Anna Molinari and Be Blumarine brands through the entrepreneur’s newly formed Eccellenze Italiane holding, which also controls Liu Jo, with an IPO as a final goal. Marchi first planned a listing of the Liu Jo company in 2018, a project that was postponed because of unfavorable market conditions. Liu Jo is expected to close 2019 with consolidated revenues of 400 million euros.

Fashion brand Elisabetta Franchi ranked 15th and, as reported, it is actually eyeing a public listing in the first quarter of 2020 on the AIM segment for small caps of the Italian Stock Exchange. The decision followed an agreement in September between parent company Betty Blue SpA, owned by the designer Elisabetta Franchi, and Spactiv, listed on the AIM segment and promoted by Borletti Group and Milano Capital. Spactiv is a special purpose acquisition company backed by entrepreneur Maurizio Borletti, a former investor in Rinascente and Printemps; former Emanuel Ungaro ceo Paolo De Spirt, and Gabriele Bavagnoli. The two companies will integrate to support the growth of the brand, which expects revenues of 123 million euros in 2019, up 6.4 percent compared with last year. Former Gianfranco Ferré and Diadora-Invicta CEO Enrico Mambelli is now helming the brand.

Pambianco for the study selects companies that have registered sales of more than 50 million euros in the last fiscal year. They are then ranked by eight parameters developed by the consultancy: growth in the 2015-2017 period; average EBITDA in the same period; brand awareness; size; exports; direct retail (including e-commerce); debt and marketing positioning. 

For the 2019 edition, 40 fashion and 10 beauty companies were selected. There were also 20 design companies and 10 firms specialized in covering materials, such as tiles. “The markets have shown they strongly believe in the Italian entrepreneurial stories that are marked by a strong growth drive, internationalization and innovation, and they are looking at new opportunities to invest,” said Pambianco.

In the beauty segment, the first three top positions were held by Istituto Ganassini, which owns the Rilastil brand, followed by Davines and AGF88 Holding Srl with the brand Alter Ego Italy.

In design, Minotti ranked first, followed by Design Holding, which controls the Flos, B&B Italia, Paulsen and Arclinea brands, while Italian Design Brand SpA, which owns the Davide Groppi brand, ranked third, taking over the Poltrona Frau Group.

In the covering materials sector, Laminam was in the first spot, followed by Florim and Iris Ceramica.

For the first time, Pambianco held a gala event at the Italian Bourse on Nov. 27 to bestow seven awards. The four awards for top performing companies in each sector were flanked by a special award assigned to the company that registered the biggest organic growth in 2018 (Laminam, followed by Golden Goose and Stone Island) and an award bestowed to the company that showed biggest profitability (furniture and design firm Pedrali, followed by Kartell and Gianvito Rossi). Davines received an award for being the most attentive to sustainability, developed with the contribution of Cerved Rating Agency.

Pambianco Strategie di Impresa was founded in 1977 by David’s father, Carlo Pambianco.

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