MILAN — The Italian State is once again stepping in to help a fashion company.
On Friday, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, a company controlled by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, has agreed to support the international growth and product innovation of the contemporary Liu Jo brand with 15 million euros of funding.
Liu Jo SpA was founded in 1995 in Carpi, outside Modena, a storied knitwear hub in the Emilia Romagna region, and the brand today spans ready- to-wear, bags, shoes and accessories, in addition to jewelry, furniture, fragrances and eyewear licenses.
The company generates sales of about 400 million euros and employs 800 people. Liu Jo products are available in 48 countries through some 510 stores and 6,200 multibrand points of sale.
The agreement follows Italy’s Ministry for Economic Development decision in July to invest 10 million euros in storied men’s wear brand Corneliani, which a month earlier had submitted an application for admission to a composition with creditors procedure. The funds were channeled into safeguarding Corneliani’s continuing operations.
The state intervention falls under the Re-Launch Decree, developed by the Italian government to support the restart of the country after the COVID-19 pandemic and which includes the creation of a fund to support companies during the crisis.
Nunzio Tartaglia, in charge of the business division of CDP, said supporting Liu Jo is in line with its mission to flank the best midsized Italian companies that promote the quality of Made in Italy. “Over the years, Liu Jo has built an enviable competitive positioning and a strong brand awareness thanks to the managerial skills of its founder Marco Marchi, who has always invested in product innovation,” said Tartaglia. “This has allowed the group to grow and we are sure it will continue to grow despite the current emergency, also through our support, which sees us increasingly closer to companies and the territory.”
Marchi has launched the Eccellenze Italiane project and in November acquired the Gruppo Blufin and its brands Blumarine, Blugirl, Anna Molinari and Be Blumarine from the founding Tarabini family. The brands are available globally through 500 points of sales, of which 31 are monobrand boutiques. The deal followed an acquisition by Eccellenze Italiane last fall of a 15 percent stake in Italian retailer Coin SpA, which operates 40 flagships in Italy and 100 stores under the Coincasa banner in the country and abroad.
Marchi said the agreement with CDP is in sync with his group’s plan to expand its partners and financial shareholders interested in Eccellenze Italiane’s growth projects as “ambassadors of Made in Italy in the world.”
He emphasized CDP’s “institutional mission to be close to companies and territories” through a new organization.
The contract proves how attentive and available CDP has been in “listening to our needs, putting at our disposal all the tools that could satisfy those needs, but also evaluating our business and our industrial plans supporting us and offering consultancy in this delicate phase of post COVID-19 recovery,” said Marchi.
The Eccellenze Italiane conglomerate aims to boost the visibility and business of Italian small and medium-sized companies on the global scene, according to Marchi. Last year, ahead of the pandemic, he said the final goal for Eccellenze Italiane was an IPO. Marchi planned a listing of the Liu Jo company in 2018, a project that the entrepreneur has said was postponed because of unfavorable market conditions.