MILAN — Italian accessories brand Piquadro is opening its first store in the U.S., on Madison Avenue in Manhattan.
The 1,080-square-foot store on one level was designed by architect Karim Azzabi, who also created the company’s futuristic spaceship-like metal-and-glass headquarters in Silla di Gaggio Montano, halfway between Florence and Bologna.
“We felt the need to tell our story, since our brand is not easily defined,” explained founder, president and chief executive officer Marco Palmieri, of the commitment to create brand awareness in the U.S.
Piquadro, launched in 1998 and publicly listed on the Milan Stock Exchange in 2007, comprises technical luggage, unisex bags, men’s and women’s bags, cases and small leather goods. The entrepreneur said he has plans to “significantly invest” in the U.S., as he believes the brand’s “values, credibility and functionality are very close to American consumers.”
Palmieri also believes the label, which blends Italian hides and technical fabrics in unique colors, does not have many competitors in America. While cautious about Piquadro’s expansion, Palmieri is building the brand’s global distribution.
Piquadro is already available in 50 countries through a network of 102 stores and around 1,500 points of sale. The first boutique opened in Milan’s Via Spiga in 2000 and units in Paris and London were unveiled in 2013 and 2014.
A standout element in the New York store is a high-tech black mirrored wall concealing 50 monitors that project product images and steps of artisanal workmanship. There is a corner offering Sartoria, the brand’s made-to-order service, and the Virtual Shelf, a monitor that visualizes information and images of products through a bar code on the tags.
While Piquadro offers evergreen items such as the Blue Square line, with vintage-looking hides and contrasting blue rims, the company has also been boosting its fashion edge with a collaboration initiated last year with designer Giancarlo Petriglia, winner of the accessories section of the eighth edition of the Who is On Next? talent search. Recently, Antonio Marras designed capsule collections for the brand.
Also, for the past two years, Piquadro products have been designed specifically for the MacBook, iPad and iPhone, and are available on the Apple Web site in its Shop section.
Net profit in the fiscal year that closed on March 31 was up 16.2 percent to 4 million euros, or $4.4 million at current exchange, on sales that reached 67.2 million euros, or $73.7 million, a 6.6 percent rise compared with the previous year. The wholesale channel accounted for 64 percent of sales.
Italy is the group’s main market, accounting for 75.7 percent of totals sales, up 11.8 percent compared with the previous year. Europe, which represents 17.5 percent of sales, was down 7.6 percent due to a contraction of the Russian and Ukrainian markets, both important to the group. Net of these regions, sales in Europe gained more than 17 percent. The Russian area was operated by a distributor, but Palmieri said he is thinking of “going partially directly” into that market.
The company has been reorganizing its business in Asia, closing 14 directly operated stores in Hong Kong, Macau, China and Taiwan. In May, Piquadro opened a boutique in China’s tourist city of Suzhou, the first under the agreement with a new partner in China, C Leading Co. Ltd., the brand’s exclusive distributor in the region. The plan is to open between 10 and 15 stores in China over the next year.