Backstage Missoni RTW Spring 2020

MILAN – A possible public listing of Missoni has been in the cards since the sale last year of a 41.2 percent stake to the Italian FSI fund for 70 million euros. Pinpointing a specific date is premature, however, said vice chairman Michele Norsa, clarifiying with WWD a media report. President and creative director Angela Missoni on Thursday said during a trip to London that she was eyeing 2023 as a possible date for the listing, according to Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore, although no details were provided about setting an IPO in motion.

In a phone interview from Asia on Saturday, Norsa said that FSI will “evaluate the opportunity of a listing starting from 2023. We are not working on the IPO now, it is a long procedure. Rather, we are building our organization, value and credibility, staying true to a timing we had mapped out to develop the company, which includes several store openings.” In fact, Norsa was busy with the opening of a unit in Singapore, which will be followed by a Missoni boutique in Miami at the Bal Harbour Shops and an M Missoni store at the Aventura Mall. Three stores are in the pipeline and expected to open next year in China.

To be sure, a public listing is a “choice pleasing to the shareholders,” said Norsa, but the executive was cautious about a timing against a scenario and “a world that continues to change.” The company, he said is growing at a double-digit clip.

Market sources say Missoni is working on bringing its longtime Home license in-house, negotiating the acquisition of the T&J Vestor firm, a storied textile company owned and helmed by Rosita Missoni’s brother, Alberto Jelmini. The Home line is historically a top performing division for the brand. In September, Margherita Maccapani Missoni presented in Milan her first collection as creative director of M Missoni, which has also been internalized.

Missoni is also expanding its product offer and is said to be working on inking a watch license by the end of the year. “These are advanced stages of projects that will allow to expand Missoni’s visibility,” said one source.

In an interview with WWD in June, Norsa, who is an industrial partner of FSI, reiterated that the IPO was a possibility for the fund to exit the investment. He also underscored a need to pace the growth of a company that last year reported sales of 150 million euros. “M&As of this kind sometimes create some unnecessary anxiety over promises and plans, while I believe it’s important to frame the point of view of the buyer and its investment. I think there should be strong harmony within the company and in the growth of the brand. There must be a growth of the product, of the structure and of the distribution, measured with one’s own strength. If you have 20 or 30 directly operated stores, you can’t go and open 10 in a year,” he said at the time. A former Valentino and Salvatore Ferragamo chief executive officer, Norsa spearheaded the listings of both companies and was a strong link between the Missonis and FSI, leveraging his track record and long experience working with families.

The Missoni family has a 58.8 percent stake in the company, which was founded in 1953 in Gallarate, Varese, by Rosita Missoni and her late husband Ottavio, known as Tai.

The fund is investing 10 million euros in the areas that Missoni needs to develop: the U.S. and Asia, and the brand’s retail network, which counts more than 70 stores between directly operated and franchised units. A concept flagship was unveiled in New York in September on Madison Avenue between 61st and 62nd Streets, designed by Missoni’s go-to architect, Patricia Urquiola.

Norsa has plans to bulk up the accessories and shoe division with in-house production in 2021. New potential licenses, including the development of perfumes and the gifts category — are also seen as key. Missoni in December inked a renewable five-year licensing agreement with Safilo Group for the production and distribution of prescription eyewear and sunglass collections for Missoni and M Missoni, with the new products available beginning in January 2020. The executive is working on creating a strong structure for the company and last month, as reported, Antonio Moltoni joined the group as chief executive officer of Missoni USA, a new position.