Andreas Schmeidler, chairman of Tsum, died on Saturday after a long illness. He was 53.
He leaves a son, Federico, aged 16. His sister, Emanuela, is also well-known in the industry, heading her own communications agency based in Milan.
A funeral service will be held on Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. at Milan’s Cimitero Maggiore in the Jewish Musocco section.
Andreas Schmeidler took on the role of chairman at Tsum, the largest department store in Eastern Europe, in 2016. Speaking to WWD in January, in the wake of Tsum’s 110th anniversary in 2017, he said he was set on investing in the department store, focusing on the Russian clientele and making sure the online experience was as compelling as the off-line one.
“Our DNA is retail, and we need to develop that. We’re not about concessions — on the contrary. Our aim is to serve the brands and develop an exquisite store online and off-line, something unique to Tsum, unique to Moscow,” he said.
Online retail also happened to be Schmeidler’s field of expertise, having consulted for Tsum on digital before taking up the chairman’s role. From 2010 to 2016, he served as Italy’s country manager for Vente-Privee, the French e-commerce company that specializes in online flash sales.
He started his career in 1983, taking charge of the family’s textile company and turning it into a European point of reference for international brands in terms of off-retail distribution, in particular in reference to TV and mail-order sales. In 2008 he founded Canalecorto.com, a commercial and strategic marketing consultancy aimed at developing alternative channels of distribution, helping Italian companies develop their business outside national borders.
“I am deeply saddened because I followed him very closely during his illness. Actually, I would say we became closer through his illness, especially during his stay in New York,” said Riccardo Tortato, fashion director for men’s wear and Tsum.ru. “He lived these last months with great dignity and courage and only a few days ago we spoke on the phone. Also in these difficult months, he liked to steer the conversation on work to distract himself a little.…Beyond his professional persona, he was a very good-hearted person. His new position at Tsum had filled him with energy and will to live. We promised we would wait for him because Tsum is a big family and we tried to stay close to him as much as possible. We will miss him very much.”
“We deeply regret this loss. It has always been a privilege to name Andreas as part of Mercury and Tsum family,” Tsum parent company Mercury Group, Russia’s largest luxury group distributor, said in a statement. “As his mother wrote to us, ‘Andreas really loved his job and the people he worked with. And also while he was ill one of his biggest regrets was that he couldn’t face his professional responsibility with the engagement and passion he always showed.’ Andreas will always be remembered as a man of highest personal and professional qualities and our thoughts now are with his family and loved ones.”
“In the last few years we built a deep and honest bond that went beyond our professional relationship,” said Riccardo Sciutto, chief executive officer of Sergio Rossi, which is one of the luxury brands carried by Tsum. “Last year I was in Moscow at the incredible event for the anniversary of Tsum where we celebrated his ability to successfully bring his energy and knowledge of distribution also to Russia. He was always generous with his precious advice which he shared with me up until a few days ago with the clarity of someone who genuinely cares about you.”
“I’m saddened by Andreas Schmeidler’s sudden passing,” said designer Alessandro Dell’Acqua, whose No. 21 label is among the ones carried by the department store. “He was a forward-looking manager who always supported No. 21 on Tsum’s platforms.”
“It is a very sad news even if not unexpected unfortunately,” said Filippo Cavalli, director of Style Capital, which has a stake in the MSGM brand. “We knew that Andreas was fighting this battle since months. We are losing a friend, a serious and talented professional with a fantastic human attitude and the rare capability of never taking himself too seriously. We will miss him a lot.”