PARIS — Europe’s luxury industry associations have welcomed a new member with the official launch of the Circulo Espanol del Lujo Fortuny, an organization promoting the luxury sector in Spain.

This story first appeared in the June 10, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The group’s founding members are Loewe, Numanthia, Lladró, Carrera y Carrera, Natura Bissé, Pagos Marqués de Griñón, La Amarilla de Ronda (LA Organic) and Sotogrande.

Carlos Falcó, the Marques de Griñon, who is executive president of the Circulo Fortuny, told a press conference at the Casino de Madrid that the luxury sector was a key driver of growth at a time when the general Spanish economy is struggling.

“The luxury sector — which values handmade manufacturing and guarantees excellence in craftsmanship — is particularly resistant to economic downfalls, and will therefore be a key element for the economic recovery,” he said.

The Circulo Fortuny was created two years ago to defend the common position of the Spanish luxury sector in the face of a planned European Commission reform of rules governing selective distribution. The new regulation, unveiled in April 2010, leaves makers of branded goods free to decide how their products are distributed.

“The success of these first steps are what led to the formalization of the Circulo, which has now a solid legal structure to offer to its new members who want to join in on this project,” the Circulo Fortuny said.

The initiative was greeted by the European Cultural and Creative Industries Alliance, which groups France’s Comité Colbert, Italy’s Fondazione Altagamma and the U.K.’s Walpole British Luxury group. The Spanish organization will join the alliance.

European brands account for about 80 percent of the worldwide luxury market, with 17 of the world’s top 25 luxury firms hailing from the European Union, the ECCIA noted. The sector employed some 800,000 people in 2010 and generated sales of more than 137 billion euros, or $181.78 billion, it added.

European Commission vice president Antonio Tajani said the luxury sector owed its sustainable growth to creativity and innovation.

“Luxury exports have continued to grow throughout the financial crisis and the sector is an example of European cultural excellence at its best. The creation of the Spanish Circulo is good news,” he stated.

The members of the Circulo have appointed Almudena Arpón de Mendivil, partner at Spanish law firm Gómez-Acebo & Pombo, as general secretary. Enrique Loewe, president of the Loewe Foundation and great-grandson of the house’s founder, is honorary president of the group.

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