MILAN — Twelve months after the sale of a 20 percent stake in Versace to Blackstone Group in a deal that valued the company at 1 billion euros, or $1.13 billion at current exchange, chief executive officer Gian Giacomo Ferraris is on track to see a public listing “as soon as it is possible,” perhaps in the next two or three years.
This does not mean the Italian luxury group is in any rush to enter the stock market, underscored Ferraris, who is nonetheless busy setting the wheels in motion to that end.
As the executive remains upbeat about the partnership with Blackstone, which “perfectly marries” the company’s business plan, while “respecting it,” Ferraris outlined his priorities: To strengthen the financial and organizational structure, with a monthly closure, for example, aimed at “transparent communication;” adapt systems and structures, with an assessment of employees and managers, and projects that will increase margins and brand equity. To wit: Versace is investing in its e-store, which is done in-house and reaches nine countries in three languages in Europe and the U.S. The company is fine-tuning the system, as Ferraris said it’s still non-mobile friendly and non-omnichannel.
Growth will also come via business development in Japan, which is a market Versace just re-entered and where it plans to open two stores, one of which will be dedicated to its home collection, and one Versus store in Aoyama covering 3,240 square feet. Versace has brought the production of its home textiles in-house beginning Jan. 1.
While the company will release its 2014 sales figures some time this spring, Ferraris touted a strong performance of accessories, which accounted for almost 40 percent of sales, and a balanced geographic market and said that, “if a brand is international, luxury customers will travel,” helping to offset regional issues, such as in Russia, for example, which mainly has “an effect on wholesale.” The Chinese shop less in China, too; because of high duties lifting prices, they are buying more in Japan, in the U.S., Canada and Australia.
Last year, the Asia Pacific region accounted for 40 percent of total sales; Europe for 40 percent, and the U.S. for 17 percent. Ferraris said he had seen a higher growth rate at retail in the U.S. and Canada in the past three years. “Europe and the U.S. are new markets for us, they are not saturated, we only had 10 stores in the U.S.,” said Ferraris, pointing to recent store openings in Toronto and Hawaii. Units will open in Miami and Vancouver in 2015.
Prospects are also favorable in Australia, where Versace is “taking back the territory,” as its own subsidiary.
A weaker euro is helping exports, but Ferraris noted that he is operating under a medium-to-long term strategy. Prices have not been increased but some time in March, the company will end its shipments to stores, said Ferraris, and, starting in May, the company “will evaluate” pricing. “We have the advantage of having more lines,” said the executive.