Gian Giacomo Ferraris

MILAN — Versace expects to grow almost 17 percent this year and has taken another step towards its initial public offering.

Chief executive officer Gian Giacomo Ferraris said during the annual Pambianco Conference in Milan on Friday that the group is “hoping” to reach 2015 revenues of 640 million euros, or $688.2 million at current exchange, and report a gain in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 18 percent. Last year, EBITDA totaled 67.6 million euros, or $90 million at average exchange, on the back of sales of 548.7 million euros, or $729.7 million. Without defining a time frame for the IPO, Ferraris said that the listing is “a step I hope to do soonest.”

On the sidelines of the conference, Ferraris said that, in another move to prepare for the Bourse, Versace is developing its corporate social responsibility, and has set up an in-house legal team flanked by external collaborators. “This is very important. We want to respect standards globally. This is a concrete initiative in preparation of going public,” he said.

Last year, the Milan-based fashion group sold a 20 percent stake to Blackstone Group to fuel global expansion, and Ferraris reiterated that the Versace family “wants to continue to maintain control” of the company through the listing. Ferraris has said in the past that the firm would look seriously at an IPO only once it reached revenues of 800 million euros, or more than $860.2 million at current exchange.

Asked about Versace’s business in the U.S., which is slowing down for several luxury brands, Ferraris touted the company’s “resilience” and balanced market structure, with a strong Europe leading business. Investments have been channeled in Europe as well as other regions, without selecting one in particular, such as China. To wit: he cited recent openings in Madrid, Barcelona and Düsseldorf, with a unit in Berlin due to open this month. Europe accounts for 42 percent of the total, followed by Asia (38 percent) and America (17 percent). Ferraris was “positive” about China and Japan, where the company is opening a flagship next week in Tokyo’s Ginza.

Underscoring Versace’s evolution of the Versus brand as a nonseasonal digital project, the executive said total group online revenues account for 8 percent of sales. “We are focusing on the Web,” he noted.

Later in the morning, Carlo Calenda, Italy’s deputy minister of economic development, who spoke from Rome via a video connection, highlighted the fact that although Italy relies on an entire fashion and textile production chain, in the last four years exports of both industries grew less than those of other sectors.

“This means that a significant part of our added value gets blocked somewhere along the way,” he said.

Calenda revealed that the Italian government, which in 2015 collaborated with American department stores to increase the visibility of domestic companies in the U.S., will promote specific initiatives aimed at boosting the business of Italian textile and fashion firms in the world.

In particular, the government will launch “High Potentials,” a project targeting medium-sized companies, which will have the opportunity to work with a financial consulting firm on the creation of a business and commercial plan focused on the internationalization of the brand.

In addition, Calenda pointed out that the Italian fashion system, compared with others, has always been particularly fragmented. In order to create a more cohesive system, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Feb. 24, the first day of Milan Women’s Fashion Week, will present a new board featuring representatives from the fashion and textile associations, large brands and companies from the entire production chain.

“This board will define annual goals and will be in charge of prioritizing the requests to ask the government,” said Calenda, who also underscored the necessity of developing a trade show calendar more in synergy with the Italian fashion weeks.

As reported, the Italian government pledged to invest 40 million euros, or $43 million, in the nation’s fashion industry in 2015, up from an average of 5.2 million euros, or $5.9 million, dedicated to the sector each year for the past five years.

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