GFT LICENSE FOR ARMANI WOMEN’S LINES NOT SETTLED

Byline: Samantha Conti

MILAN — GFT managing director Angelo Barozzi, in his first news conference since the announcement of the formation of Gruppo Industriale Marzotto — which will be GFT’s new parent company — said the future of the Giorgio Armani women’s wear license was still uncertain.
Barozzi, during the Tuesday news conference called to discuss GFT’s 1996 results, said the company was completing the renewal of Armani’s men’s wear license and would begin discussing the licenses for Armani’s diffusion women’s lines, Le Collezioni and Mani, soon. Armani is GFT’s most important licensee, generating $247 million at wholesale in men’s and women’s.
“I’m aware that Armani is thinking about producing those women’s collections in-house. I don’t view that idea as a threat; I think he’s simply reflecting on the possibility. When we talk, we will tackle the question openly. We should have an answer before the end of the year,” Barozzi said.
As reported, GFT posted net profits of $30.2 million (51 billion lire) on sales of $828.4 million (1.4 trillion lire) in 1996.
Operating profit rose 3.8 percent to $57.2 million (96.7 billion lire), and the company’s debt dropped 20.9 percent to $100 million (169.1 billion lire).
Forty-nine percent of GFT’s sales were in North America, and Barozzi said the U.S. was key to GFT’s recovery over the last two years.
“Every one of our lines in the U.S. is growing, and the Emanuel line is growing at a rate of 40 percent [a year],” he said.
The remainder of sales came from Italy, 21 percent; elsewhere in Europe, 19 percent, and other countries, 11 percent.
Barozzi said sales in the Far East are not as vigorous as they should be, and that the company would concentrate on boosting them with the help of a local management team. “We finally realized we couldn’t manage Asia from our headquarters in Turin,” he said.
Barozzi added that GFT had no more plans to downsize in 1997.
Over the last two years, GFT has closed a series of factories, sold off nonstrategic investments and reduced its work force considerably in a bid to regain profitability.
GFT produces various collections for Giorgio Armani, Valentino, Emanuel Ungaro, Calvin Klein, Joseph Abboud, Cerruti and its own labels.
Barozzi said that by the end of 1997 the company would take on or develop a new label, but he gave no further details.
He was also tight-lipped with regard to Gruppo Industriale Marzotto, the new textile and apparel giant whose formation was announced last month.
Created from the fusion of HPI — an industrial holding that contains GFT and Fila — and Marzotto, the new company will become operative on July 1.
Barozzi said no decisions have been made regarding how the new company will be organized, or what synergies might be worked out between GFT and Marzotto.
“I can’t say anything regarding GFT’s role within Gruppo Industriale Marzotto. Nothing at all is concrete,” Barozzi said. “In my opinion, however, the most obvious advantages with this new company will be the good cash flow and the sharing of know-how among the different companies.”
Barozzi stressed that he did not envision any sort of industrial cooperation between GFT and Marzotto.
Barozzi also denied rumors published in the Italian press that he was leaving GFT to work at Ratti, the silk manufacturer based in Como.
“I’m not going anywhere; I have every reason to stay at GFT,” he said.

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