MILAN — The owners of Roberto Cavalli are taking stock of the performance of the brand and are liking what they see, according to market sources. As a result, Italian private equity fund Clessidra SGR, which took control of the Florence-based brand in 2015, is said to be open to bringing in other investors to inject fresh capital and expand the fashion house.
One source said “the company’s reorganization is over, with revenues picking up and break-even expected for the year, in light of the first six months of 2018,” and that creative director Paul Surridge has been forging a path for the label with his first two shows in Milan and the men’s collection unveiled at Pitti Uomo last month. These are all elements that are leading Clessidra “to have great and growing confidence in the opportunities to further develop the brand.”
Clessidra is “now available to open the brand to fresh financial funds to accelerate the growth with new store openings, the entry in new markets, new partnerships and new marketing projects in light of the strong interest the fund sees for the brand,” a source said. This includes welcoming new minority shareholders. It is understood chief financial officer Gian Giacomo Ferraris, who has spearheaded the turnaround of Cavalli since his arrival in May 2016, is in agreement.
“It’s a good moment to emphasize and add value to the brand,” said the source. It is understood the process will be communicated and actively begin after the August summer holidays.
In March, Ferraris told WWD he stood by his plan to see Cavalli break even in 2018, leveraging better-than-expected results last year. “We are delivering what we promised and set the basis for growth,” said the executive, who joined the company after exiting Versace. Ferraris also successfully restructured Versace and, together with that namesake family, welcomed the Blackstone Group as a minority shareholder in 2014.
At Cavalli, while still operating at a loss, that figure was substantially reduced last year because of tight cost control the reorganization set in motion in 2016. Operating losses before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization totaled 7.1 million euros in 2017 compared with a loss of 26.2 million euros in 2016. As of Dec. 31, the company had a positive net financial position of 1.2 million euros.
In the 12 months ended Dec. 31, revenues were down 1.8 percent to 152.4 million euros, compared with 155.2 million euros in 2016, but Ferraris emphasized that the figure stabilized after years of steep declines in the range of about 25 percent each year. Stabilizing sales was one of the most urgent tasks when he took over, as reported. “Based on what we’ve seen so far, we confirm our target to reach operating profitability in 2018,” he said in March.
The group operates 48 directly operated Roberto Cavalli monobrand stores. This month, the company unveiled a new concept by Surridge in Berlin, which carries men’s and women’s collections and marked the direct entrance of the brand in Germany for the first time.
In May 2016, Italmobiliare SpA, the publicly listed investment group owned by the Pesenti family, took control of Clessidra for roughly 20 million euros. Italmobiliare holds and manages a diversified portfolio of investments and equity interests worth more than 2 billion euros.
When Clessidra bought Cavalli, financial details were not disclosed, but market sources estimated that the brand was purchased for between 380 million euros and 400 million euros. The deal was completed by a newly established company called Varenne, controlled by Clessidra but including L-GAM and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd.
Founder and designer Roberto Cavalli himself retains a 10 percent stake in the firm, but he has eased out of the fashion industry.