MILAN — Kering plans to further expand Balenciaga’s accessories production with the opening of the brand’s first leather goods factory and training center in Italy next year.
The complex will be located in Tuscany, in Cerreto Guidi, around 25 miles from Florence.
In sync with Kering’s sustainability goals, the French group will restore an existing building, but details of the architectural project and of the investment are not yet available.
This production unit is expected to create up to 300 jobs.
The training center will be operative before the production activities and newly hired artisans will be trained for optimal quality control. The plant will allow Balenciaga to improve efficiency in its supply chain and plan its manufacturing in Italy. At the same time, Kering said Wednesday that Balenciaga would continue to rely on a significant network of local suppliers for its leather goods.
Balenciaga, under the artistic direction of Demna Gvasalia, has been delivering gains to its parent company, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, Kering said sales at its “other houses” division were up 11.7 percent in the third quarter, as Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga delivered double-digit growth in retail and wholesale channels.
Kering has long been supporting Italy and the Tuscan region. As reported, earlier this year it confirmed it was planning to set up a new Atelier Maroquinerie Yves Saint Laurent, leasing a building complex in Scandicci, outside Florence.
The complex, called Palazzo delle Finanze, comprises two buildings covering around 309,960 square feet and is expected to be delivered to the brand in September 2022. With an investment estimated to total around 28.5 million euros, Italy’s CDP will be responsible for redeveloping and reconverting the buildings for the industrial activities of the brand, ranging from the development of prototypes to the production of accessories and the training of new professional figures.
The cement building was erected between 1991 and 1994 to house the Center of the Ministry of Finances, but it was never fully finished or used.
In June, Kering also said it planned to set up a laboratory dedicated to the fashion pipeline in Tuscany.
This is the first such initiative for Kering, which is saving an existing jewel in the crown in the town of Prato, a textile and clothing manufacturer hub. Previously called Buzzilab, it was a public institution that closed last year, and Kering will hire a number of its chemists and specialized workers.
Kering was in the past a client of Buzzilab and the plan is to allow brands and companies inside and outside the group to also have access to TIL’s services.
The project is yet another tangible sign of the luxury group’s interest in consolidating its presence and investing in Italy to develop its brands.
In 2018, Gucci, also controlled by Kering, inaugurated ArtLab, a sprawling, state-of-the-art industrial complex, in Tuscany’s Scandicci, which is one of Italy’s main leather goods manufacturing hubs.