Appeared In
Special Issue
Men'sWeek issue 03/22/2012

MILAN — Caruso chief executive officer Umberto Angeloni is showing his faith in the Italian luxury men’s wear clothing manufacturer with a purchase of an additional 38.5 percent stake.

This story first appeared in the March 22, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Through the vehicle of Aplomb Srl, his partnership with Ruggero Magnoni, Angeloni now controls 80.1 percent of Raffaele Caruso SpA, which is listed on the Milan Stock Exchange. Alberto Caruso, son of the founder, will remain part of the board together with his brother Nicola, but he has resigned from his post as chairman — a role that will be taken up by Angeloni.

The additional stake would equal 855,000 shares, bringing Aplomb’s total ownership to about 1.8 million of the 2.2 million shares outstanding. While the price of the transaction was not disclosed, the company has a total market capitalization of 27.7 million euros, or $36.5 million, at the stock’s most recent price of 12.6 euros, or $16.61 at current exchange rates.

Although Angeloni said the option to be a majority shareholder was in the cards since he first started injecting new life into Caruso in 2009, “this was the right moment to press the accelerator, increasing my financial and personal commitment, in light of new economic scenarios.”

During a press conference here Tuesday, Angeloni gave forecasts for the 2012-2016 period, with the goal of doubling Caruso’s revenues within four years. “While it may appear ambitious, this business plan is actually cautious, as we are not taking into account the direct expansion in the Chinese market and considering only a limited retail development,” said Angeloni.

Caruso closed the 2011 fiscal year with sales of 60.6 million euros, or $84.2 million at average exchange, up 30 percent compared with the previous year. In 2012, revenues are expected to grow 15 percent to 69.9 million euros, or $92.2 million at current exchange, and reach 121 million euros, or $159.5 million, in 2016. Angeloni defined the 2009-2011 period as the “resetting-relaunch” of the firm, which was founded in 1958, and the 2012-2016 years those of “expansion and development.”

Despite the uncertainties of the economy and the Italian Chamber of Fashion’s lackluster industry projections for the year (down 5.2 percent), the executive noted that the company posted a 20 percent gain in the first two months of 2012. Angeloni said Italy accounts for 40 percent of sales, and “it’s not suffering, it’s actually growing.”

Caruso inked four new manufacturing projects this year, in addition to the existing 15 lines the company already counts, which include Dior and Lanvin. As reported, Caruso will produce a new high-end Chinese men’s brand that will be unveiled later this month, called SheJi-Sorgere and owned by China Garments Co. Ltd., a large public company with holdings in fashion and media that is listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. The Chinese government also has a stake in the group.

Caruso, based in Soragna, a one-hour drive east of Milan, also produces its own brands, Uman and Caruso. Angeloni said his increased stake in the company marks a stronger “push towards a more international company.”

Angeloni praised the Caruso family as enlightened entrepreneurs, who “are not focused on controlling and keeping the company to themselves, as legally it’s obviously theirs, but it also belongs to the Made in Italy [manufacturing initiative]. In some cases, families get mired down with internal politics, but [the Carusos] have always been open to opportunities, such as the Bourse,” he said in a thinly veiled jab at the heirs of Brioni’s founders. Angeloni was instrumental in building Brioni into a global lifestyle brand when he was its ceo, but was bought out by the Brioni family after a disagreement over strategy. Brioni has since become part of giant French group PPR.

Alberto Caruso was equally supportive of Angeloni, who helped “not only financially, but in developing the company as I’ve always desired, with a global dimension and good, solid management.”

A Caruso corner opened at Milan’s La Rinascente department store last weekend.

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