MILAN — Furla’s owners are considering a sale of a stake in the Italian accessories company, according to market sources.
Sources say Furla has tapped Lazard as its adviser and a dossier is circulating in Milan. It is also understood that former Valentino chief executive officer Stefano Sassi is consulting with Furla on a potential deal.
As reported, Sassi most recently worked with Etro and is said to have helped the Italian fashion brand achieve the sale of a 60 percent stake to private equity giant L Catterton last year, in a deal valued at 500 million euros. The executive joined Valentino in 2006 and was instrumental in leading and growing the company through the acquisition in 2012 by Mayhoola.
Furla had no comment on the speculation and a representative for Lazard could not be reached.
“Obviously, an injection of capital is always useful and we know that many private equity funds are flush with cash now, but at Furla, I believe there is an issue of succession,” said a source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
In 2016, owner Giovanna Furlanetto set in motion plans to take Furla public, but this project never materialized. “She changed her mind,” said the source, and “now is not the time to reconsider this decision.” Furla was founded in Bologna in 1927 by Aldo Furlanetto, Giovanna’s father. Her son Giuseppe Costato, who is one of the owners, is not involved in the company’s management.
“These are early days, she is testing the market. It is not clear whether she is seeking an industrial partner or merely someone to help finance the company’s development to be competitive in a crowded accessories arena. In any case, the brand’s appeal remains strong,” believes the source. Furla has a strong and expansive network of stores globally, with a solid business in Europe and growth potential in Asia-Pacific. Japan has historically been the company’s main single market.
In 2016, TIP Tamburi Investment Partners invested 15 million euros to issue a convertible loan for a capital increase, which would have been automatically swapped into Furla shares at an initial public offering that was supposed to happen within 2018 but never took place. At that time, TIP also committed to underwrite an additional 15 million euros on the day of the listing at the same economic conditions offered to the market. A further quota of shares would have been allotted to TIP and sources estimated another 15 million to 30 million euros would have been paid then. TIP, which included the Marzotto, Loro Piana and Ferragamo families among its investors, has over the years invested in Remo Ruffini’s holding company, Ruffini Partecipazioni, indirectly buying a stake in Moncler, Hugo Boss and Ferrari.
Furla is helmed by chief executive officer Mauro Sabatini, who in January last year succeeded Alberto Camerlengo, named executive president of the board. Sabatini leverages in-depth knowledge of both Furla and the leather goods industry. For more than 18 years, he was CEO of Effeuno, a leather goods manufacturing company he founded in Tuscany and Furla’s supplier and longtime partner.
In 2018, Furla took control of Effeuno, which is based in Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, a 40-minute drive from Florence. At the time, Effeuno already exclusively produced Furla’s accessories, employing more than 100 workers and producing 2 million bags and small leather goods a year. The takeover was part of Furla’s strategy to invest in Italy and to strengthen the group’s supply chain, boosting production.
As per the latest figures available, Furla group sales in 2019 totaled 502 million euros.