MILAN — Sebastian Suhl is joining Valentino SpA as the new managing director of global markets, starting in January and reporting to chief executive officer Stefano Sassi, WWD has learned.
Suhl will help support the Rome-based company’s ongoing expansion globally — but could his arrival signal Sassi’s increased focus on an initial public offering? In March, Sassi said the IPO was “not on the table” in 2017, and “we’ll see what happens in 2018. We’ve shelved it because of market conditions. If things change, we’ll review [the project]. We are not talking about it internally at the moment.”
Sources in Milan now say Valentino could be looking at the second half of 2018 for a listing.
To be sure, no firm date had ever been forecast as the company, which last year reached the threshold of $1 billion in sales, is not in a hurry. The company is controlled by the Qatar-based Mayhoola Group, which is not eyeing an exit from its investment, first made in 2012.
On the contrary, Mayhoola “has [Valentino] and wants to keep it, with ambitious plans to do even more,” Sassi said at the time, alluding to the expansion of the fund’s fashion and luxury stable with the acquisition of Balmain last year. Mayhoola also controls Pal Zileri and is a minority shareholder in Anya Hindmarch. Sassi is said to be involved in the decision-making on several fronts.
Suhl was previously chief executive officer of Marc Jacobs International, whose parent company is LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. He left the New York-based fashion house last summer after a three-year stint, charged with, among other things, readying the house for an initial public offering. Suhl spearheaded the elimination of the Marc by Marc Jacobs label launched in 2000, consolidating the signature brand, focusing on accessories and tightening the brand’s vertical retail footprint.
Suhl arrived at Marc Jacobs in 2014 from Givenchy, and he was seen as a rising star among LVMH’s senior executive ranks. It was a moment of profound change for the brand as Jacobs had just wrapped up his 16-year stint at Louis Vuitton, set to focus solely on his namesake label, which remains in a challenging phase.
Suhl had joined Givenchy in 2012 after an 11-year career at Prada Group, and saw the Milan-based company go through a lengthy process to publicly list. Prada eventually launched its IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2011. At Prada, Suhl was promoted to ceo in the Asia-Pacific region in 2005 and then named group chief operating officer in 2009, reporting to ceo Patrizio Bertelli, and heading the retail, wholesale, e-commerce and marketing departments for the Prada, Miu Miu and Car Shoe brands.
Born in New York, Suhl holds an MBA from the Barcelona business school Esade, and joined Prada in 2001 as general manager of France, following stints at Deloitte & Touche and the fashion houses Courrèges and Thimister.
Suhl said it was “a great honor” to join Valentino. “I look forward to partnering with Stefano, Pierpaolo [Piccioli, creative director] and the teams on the further development of this extraordinary house — I have admired it for quite some time.”