ANALYSTS VIEW GILARDI MOVE
Byline: Courtney Colavita
MILAN — Analysts here believe that Carlo Gilardi’s resignation as co-chief executive officer of Benetton Group was a natural evolution at the company.
“I don’t believe this was a truly strategic move, but more of a way to bring new energy to the company,” said Armando Branchini, vice president of InterCorporate, a consulting firm here. “In the past several years, the group has strayed away from its core apparel business and this is something the family must confront. I think it’s a classic case of cleaning house to deal with management issues.”
Gilardi, a former Bank of Italy and Banca di Roma executive, joined the Benetton group in 1995 and was instrumental in reorganizing the company’s financial activities. In 1997, he spearheaded the purchase of Benetton Sportsystem from Edizione Holding, the Benetton family’s holding company, in a bid to bolster its growing activewear and sports equipment divisions. Sportsystem has been losing money, and analysts say that’s one of the greatest challenges facing the group.
“Whoever steps in must find a way to make Sportsystem break even,” said Andrea Paladini, an equities analyst at Centrosim here. “Gilardi had hoped to do it by 2000 — it didn’t happen. Now the new person must succeed where Gilardi had failed.”
According to a brief statement from Benetton, Gilardi will leave the Italian clothing company after its shareholder meeting on May 8. Sources say Gilardi, 59, is most likely to become chief executive at Cofiri, a Rome-based investment bank. Gilardi and Cofiri officials declined comment.
A spokesman for Benetton said that the decision was mutual but would not elaborate.
The company hasn’t yet named a replacement for Gilardi. Gilberto Benetton continues as co-ceo. A Benetton spokesman said while the group is in contact with possible candidates, an official announcement would not come for some time.
“Gilardi is still our joint managing director and will be in that position until May. We feel it would be inappropriate to announce his replacement while he is still with us,” he said.
Based in Treviso, the global, family run enterprise sells United Colors of Benetton, Sisley and other brands of clothing, accessories and sporting goods in more than 120 countries. Benetton reported sales of $1.4 billion for the first nine months of 2000.