MARTINI SELLS 10% OF CLASSE

Byline: Luisa Zargani

MILAN — Alviero Martini, founder and designer of the Prima Classe accessories and ready-to-wear lines, has sold 10 percent of his company to the investment holding firm Final SpA.
However, under the terms of the agreement, in two years, Final’s ownership will increase to 49.9 percent. In recent months, Final has been on a purchasing spree, acquiring Italian pharmaceutical and chemical companies. This is the company’s first venture in the fashion arena.
“Alviero Martini will continue to be a majority shareholder, in order to guarantee continuity and quality of the product,” said Pier Domenico Rivera, general manager of Alviero Martini SpA, at a press conference. Terms of the sale were not disclosed, but Rivera said Prima Classe expects sales to top $53.7 million in the next three years, a gain of roughly 25 percent from 1999’s volume.
Martini launched Prima Classe accessories, known for its trademark map-print handbags in 1990. Over the years, Martini has added two clothing lines for women and a line for men, as well as footwear, watch, fragrance and home collections.
“The luxury goods market is changing under our very eyes,” said Martini.
“I felt we needed to attack the market in a modern way and increase our investments in order to avoid a relapse, and to do this, we needed outside structures and financing,” he added.
Rivera said he plans to make investments in distribution and retailing, which include the opening of three boutiques by 2001 in New York, London and Rome.
“Next year, in addition to a joint venture in Japan, we want to focus on the European market and open a company in the U.S. that will handle distribution there,” he said.
The Prima Classe line is available in over 1,000 sales points worldwide, as well as boutiques in cities including Milan, Saint-Tropez and Kuwait City.
Rivera also said the company will not renew its license with Bologna-based Rossi Srl, which produces Prima Classe handbags and small leather goods. The license expires in mid-2000.
“Rossi though, will continue to produce for us,” said Rivera.

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