TPG NAMES TOP BALLY MANAGEMENT
Byline: Samantha Conti
MILAN — Texas Pacific Group, which last month announced plans to buy Bally, has named Gerald Mazzalovo president and chief executive officer and Scott Fellows creative director of the Swiss footwear and fashion company, confirming a report in these columns.
TPG, a U.S.-based leveraged buyout fund which specializes in reviving consumer brand names, also confirmed in a statement that Bernd Wahler, Bally’s current ceo, would become group managing director. All three executives will serve on a newly constituted board of directors.
As reported (WWD, Sept. 17), Mazzalovo, 50, is a former president and ceo of Loewe, a fashion house owned by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Before that, he was ceo of Ferragamo’s North American operations. Fellows, 34, was until last year Ferragamo’s director of worldwide marketing.
“[Gerald and Scott] complement the strong capabilities of Bernd Wahler, and together they will form a unique team excelling in both brand management expertise and strong business discipline,” said Abel Halpern, the managing director of TPG in Europe, in the statement. “Together, they will leverage Bally’s historic franchise in the industry.”
Halpern said later in a telephone interview that TPG’s goal is to restore “luster and integrity” to the Bally brand and revive its “1960’s Alpine jet-set, luxury” image. “We want Bally to return to the company it used to be: a company associated with refined, discreet, subdued fashion, and one that served customers more interested in engineering and quality than in flash,” he said.
Industry sources say it was no coincidence that TPG chose two former Ferragamo executives to pilot Bally. TPG’s goal, they say, is to carve a niche in the luxury goods market and position Bally alongside Ferragamo, the Florence-based footwear and fashion house.
“Bally can once again be a luxury brand, but clearly it is going to require years of hard work and investment in the product and the brand to get it to that level,” Halpern said, adding that TPG would focus first on reinforcing Bally’s core capabilities in leather footwear and then move to accessories and ready-to-wear.
“Our goal is a legitimate and full-lifestyle proposition,” Halpern said.
While TPG would not disclose the purchase price of Bally, the fund is believed to have paid more than $200 million. Industry sources say the deal went like this: TPG paid an initial $65 million to purchase Bally from Oerlikon-Buhrle Holding AG and has vowed to invest the remainder in the future of Bally.
Most recently, TPG rescued the Italian motorcycle company Ducati and floated it on the stock market earlier this year. It is also said to be considering buying Fendi, although sources say TPG’s enthusiasm for that investment is cooling, as the Fendi sisters are undecided about selling their company.