NEW YORK — Safilo Group SpA chief executive officer Roberto Vedovotto has resigned and will depart the Italian eyewear company at the end of July.

The company said in a statement that it planned to make U.S. president Claudio Gottardi and chief operating officer Massimiliano Tabacchi co-ceo’s, although Safilo will not be able to confirm the shift until its August board meeting.

Vedovotto, a former Morgan Stanley executive who began at Safilo in 2002, was hired to guide the firm through its relisting on the Italian stock exchange in December and the refinancing of the company’s senior loan last month. Safilo Group first listed shares on the Italian stock exchange in 1987, but became privately held 14 years later when chairman Vittorio Tabacchi bought out his two brothers’ stakes in an operation that delisted Safilo in 2001. The current share offer was anticipated to generate as much as 1.1 billion euros, or $1.3 billion at current exchange rates, with its biggest beneficiaries expected to be Suisse Boston and Safilo.

“Now that the company’s extraordinary phase has been successfully completed, Safilo will have, thanks to the continuity of Claudio Gottardi and Massimiliano Tabacchi, guidance which will allow us to be ever more competitive in the luxury eyewear market,” Tabacchi said in a statement. “We need a leadership which is capable of managing our core business, with experience and expertise in developing our licensors, managing relations with our clients, developing production and managing commercial development and cost control.”

Gottardi, who has been with Safilo for almost two decades, took on his U.S. role in 1996 and will maintain those responsibilities.

“I will be working hard for sure in the new role,” Gottardi said. “We do have key licenses that we need to grow. We also need to continue to strengthen our diversification and expand into new markets.”

Massimiliano Tabacchi, Vittorio’s son, has been with the firm for almost two decades.

Safilo is the second-largest eyewear maker in Italy after Luxottica Group SpA and claims a 43 percent share of the market for “high-end” eyewear retailing at upward of 100 euros.

Through licensing deals, it manufactures eyewear for a series of fashion brands, including Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Dior and Marc Jacobs. Safilo said its net profit for the year ended Dec. 31 plunged 84 percent to 3.1 million euros, or $3.9 million at average exchange rates for the period, partly due to the costs associated with its initial public offering. Sales rose 8.5 percent to 1.03 billion euros, or $1.29 billion.

This story first appeared in the July 11, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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