MILAN — Prada Group is growing fast and is apparently on the hunt for production muscle.
According to industry sources here, Prada wants to buy Genny Group’s hi-tech factories to produce the Prada, Miu Miu, Helmut Lang and Fendi apparel lines.
Genny Group’s managing director, Stefano Ferro, said that while the two companies are in talks about a “production agreement,” Genny Group had no plans to sell its factories. Prada had no comment.
The Genny factories, built in the early Nineties when sales of the Byblos and Genny brands were roaring, are able to produce 150,000 units each season and boast ample storage facilities.
In the early Nineties, Byblos was a hot Italian designer brand under the design team of Alan Cleaver and Keith Varty, with a volume of about $150 million. By 1995, the line cooled off and sales began to slip.
Since then, Byblos has had a series of revolving-door designers, including Richard Tyler and John Bartlett. Today, group sales, including those of the Genny brand, are about $110 million.
Over the past year, however, the company has undergone a drastic restructuring and a spokeswoman said sales of the fall 2001 collections are up 20 percent from last year. Overall sales in 2001 should increase by 10 percent, she added.
As reported, Genny Group has named Martine Sitbon the new women’s creative director at Byblos. Sandy Dalal will be designing the Byblos men’s wear line.
Sales at Prada Group, meanwhile, are growing rapidly due to new acquisitions and the expansion of the company’s core brands. Between 1996 and 2000, group sales grew 44 percent to $1.68 billion. Sales of Prada and Miu Miu alone gained 37 percent in the same period.
Prada Group, which owns the Prada, Miu Miu, Helmut Lang, Jil Sander and Church & Co brands, and controls Fendi through a joint venture with LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, plans to seek a public offering in Italy later this year. The company plans to use the money raised in the initial public offering to open new, directly operated stores, to make acquisitions and to offset debt incurred from recent purchases.