MILAN — Seasoned fashion executive Paolo Torello-Viera has resigned as chief executive officer of storied Italian wool mill Lanificio Fratelli Cerruti for personal reasons.
Alessandro Cannas, currently chief financial officer of the company, will assume the ceo post on an interim basis.
Torello-Viera was appointed ceo in August 2018, a month after London-based fund Njord Partners acquired 80 percent of the Biella, Italy-based textile firm.
“I’ve made the decision, albeit an arduous one, to go back to the U.S. and reconnect with my family,” Torello-Viera said. “I’m grateful to Njord for understanding and easing my choice. I will keep following from overseas the success of the only wool mill inside the walls of Biella.”
“Paolo has guided [the company] through the delicate phase of the property change and supported the company’s relaunch,” said Arvid Trolle, Njord Partners’ portfolio manager. “Lanificio Fratelli Cerruti is a leader in its sector and despite the complex and delicate moment has great potential to grow and develop in Italy and through its subsidiaries in the Asia-Pacific [region] and retail network,” he commented.
In addition to the namesake textile collections, the company operates the Il Lanificio apparel brand for men and women, available through stores in outlet centers in the North of Italy and Switzerland.
In 2018, the company generated revenues of 56 million euros, which Torello-Viera expected to reach 60 million in 2019. Under his lead, the company streamlined its product offering, added key hires in the communication and commercial departments and invested in the purchase of industrial assets, such as new warping machines that will be installed at the firm’s facility by the end of 2020.
“It’s a phase of epochal change because of the industry’s identity crisis and a shift in consumers’ habits. It’s not important how fast you run but to run in the right direction,” Torello-Viera told WWD last July at the Milano Unica textile trade show.
Before joining the textile firm, Torello-Viera served between 2015 and early 2017 as ceo for the Americas at Pal Zileri. Prior to that, the Italian executive was ceo of North America at BVM USA, which controlled the Les Copains brand before Bologna-based Super Srl acquired the company in 2019. Torello-Viera’s other experience includes chief operating officer at Samuelsohn; co-executive vice president of retail at Brioni, and 15 years at the Ermenegildo Zegna Group.
After Njord acquired a majority interest in the textile company, the Cerruti family retained a 20 percent stake, and Nino Cerruti, who previously held the ceo role, took on the title of president.