Byline: Luisa Zargani

VALDAGNO, Italy — After two years at the helm of apparel and textile company Marzotto, Jean de Jaegher resigned Monday as chairman, although he will stay with the company. Innocenzo Cipolletta, an established economist, will succeed him on Sept. 1.
Until he joins Marzotto, Cipolletta will remain president of Confindustria, Italy’s main industrial association. Cipolletta has been a member of the Marzotto board for the past year.
De Jaegher retains an active role within the company as deputy chairman; his duties will focus on Hugo Boss AG, the German men’s clothing manufacturer controlled by Marzotto, and Linificio and Canapificio Nazionale SpA, which makes linen yarns.
“After 40 years of intense work, I think the time has come to reduce my professional tasks, to pursue other family and personal interests,” said an upbeat and cheerful de Jaegher at a press conference following the company’s annual meeting at its headquarters here.
The Belgian de Jaegher, who has worked for Marzotto for more than 30 years, had previously served as chairman of Hugo Boss and Marzotto USA. Cipolletta will be the second non-family member to hold the position of chairman in the history of the company, after De Jaegher took the reins from Pietro Marzotto, who resigned in June 1998.
Silvano Storer, whom the board confirmed as chief executive officer, expressed his gratitude to de Jaegher for his support during a recent company restructuring and greeted Cipolletta as “a professional, with a pulse on the international mechanisms of economy.” Storer said Cipolletta’s broader, more international views of the market will be an asset.
“We were perhaps too focused on internal processes in the past,” said Storer.
“There won’t be a dramatic change in strategies with Cipolletta, but a stronger attention on economic aspects of the business,” added de Jaegher.
Luxury goods consultant Armando Branchini was positive about Cipolletta’s appointment:
“Cipolletta has an in-depth knowledge of economy and finance. I believe he will be a great aid in the development of Marzotto. Through his experience at Confindustria, Cipolletta understands the new rhythms of economy and the management of human resources.”
During the meeting, Marzotto reported net profits in the first quarter of $38.9 million, a 19 percent increase from $32.8 million in the same period last year. (Dollar figures are converted from lire at current exchange.)
Consolidated net sales grew 6.9 percent from the same period last year, reaching $418.5 million, up from $391 million.
Marzotto estimated that group consolidated sales this year would increase in line with results of the first three months, and net profits would increase compared to last year.
During the first three months of 2000, group operating profits reached $76.9 million, increasing by $9.2 million compared to the same period last year. Group operating profits represent 18 percent of total sales.
Storer said Marzotto is entering the second phase of its restructuring strategy, with an emphasis on outsourcing in textiles. This year, the company bought production facilities in Lithuania, which adds to its plants in the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey and the U.S. De Jaegher said that in 2001, the company expects to see benefits from its plan to increase production outside Italy, where manufacturing costs are high.
Marzotto is also focusing on its apparel division and on retailing and distribution. This year, Marzotto opened showrooms and commercial offices in Dusseldorf, London, Madrid, Palermo, Rome and Tokyo. An office was opened in New York last December, and Storer said the next addition will be a London branch of Marzotto by the end of the year.
Besides its own lines, Borgofiori, Lebole and Marlboro Classics, Marzotto produces licensed collections for Gianfranco Ferre and Missoni. Storer said the company plans to revamp the GFF and Gianfranco Ferre Studio lines, which suffered a slowdown in performance in U.S. and Asian markets. He said he expect sales to pick up next year.
Storer also said he is planning to set up an internal business-to-business e-commerce site.
“Everybody is excited about e-commerce, and so are we,” he said. “But we must be careful not to overspend, and we must provide an inside service first, then later move on to the final consumer.”