MILAN — Pietro Marzotto, the former chairman and chief executive officer of the Marzotto textile group, died on Thursday in Portogruaro, Italy, of heart failure. He was 80.
A funeral service will be held next week in Valdagno, where the storied company is based. Marzotto is survived by his third wife, Anna, and four children: Umberto, Marina, Italia and Pier Leone.
Marzotto, a count, was the son of Gaetano Marzotto, who shaped the family company into one of Italy’s preeminent textile manufacturers.
Pietro Marzotto went on to create a luxury fashion conglomerate, spearheading the expansion of the family-owned textile group in the Eighties and Nineties and engineering the acquisition of men’s wear giant Hugo Boss in 1991. The entrepreneur exited the company in 2003 after clashing with some members of the Marzotto family over future strategies.
In 2012, he turned his sights on gastronomy. With a majority stake in Milan’s historical gourmet store Peck, Marzotto renovated the brand’s restaurant, with plans for franchises around the world, from South Korea, China and the Philippines to the U.S. and Brazil.
At the time, Marzotto said that he’d “always been passionate about cuisine and always loved to cook” since he was a boy. His son Pier Leone joined in the new venture, tasked with building the international development of Peck.
“He was my mentor, a point of reference for me and he was very close to my father. With him, I lived all the main stages of the company,” said his nephew Matteo Marzotto, the former chairman of Valentino, which was also part of the fashion group created by the Marzottos and Permira until it was sold to Qatar-based Mayhoola in 2012. “He was never pleased and never tamed, but he lived a full life. He was absolutely morally rigorous, and he forced a set of hard and strong rules on himself. He always respected people and was transparent, what you saw was what you got.”
“An incredible forward-thinker who effectively contributed to the creation of the fashion industry,” said Valentino Garavani.
Stefano Sassi, who was chief executive officer of Marzotto SpA until he was named ceo of Valentino Fashion Group and Valentino SpA in 2006, described Pietro Marzotto as “a man with great personality and leadership. He created a very successful company that really reflected his vision. There are few men like him.”
As general director of Marzotto’s fashion sector, which produced collections for Gianfranco Ferré, M Missoni, Marlboro Classics and Lebole, and then ceo and general manager of Valentino Fashion Group, Michele Norsa worked with Pietro Marzotto for nine years and “very closely” with him during the acquisition of Valentino and leading its IPO, before joining the Salvatore Ferragamo group in 2006.
“I learned a lot from him. He had an exceptional entrepreneurial vision and he created a unique fashion pole, which with Valentino reached around 3 billion euros, making it the third fashion luxury group at the time,” said Norsa, noting that Marzotto helmed the family group for more than two decades, one of its longest-serving leaders.
“At the same time, he was also a manager, he was very concrete, rigorous and severe. He always knew all the details in the figures ahead of anyone else, and paid close attention to the numbers.” Norsa said Marzotto participated in writing the governance of the Italian Stock Exchange.
He also remarked on Marzotto’s “love of life, sailing, dinners with friends and hunting.” Although he looked strict, he was funny, and used to tell jokes, he added. “He had the ability to understand and get to know people. I had a three-hour interview, then went to lunch at his home, where he personally chose the music in the background. You would always eat well there.”
“He was a great man, an inspiration and I was in awe of his work,” said Brunello Cucinelli, who knew Marzotto through Matteo Marzotto who sits on his own fashion company’s board. “He succeeded as a custodian, as I like to say, of the company, which he made contemporary while rooted in the territory — this is a company that is more than 180 years old, after all. He was a strong man, a man of steel.”
“With Pietro we lose another important representative of a productive and genius Italy,” said Ermanno Scervino chief executive officer Toni Scervino. “Pietro was an incredible personality who greatly contributed to the growth and internationalization of our country.”