Benetton Group has appointed Francesco Gori non-executive chairman. He succeeds Gianni Mion, a longtime go-to executive for the Benettons, who left after 30 years working with the family.

In February, as reported, Benetton initiated a search for a new president. Market sources said this was also preparatory to either a possible return to the stock exchange or to opening up to outside investors or partners. “Whether to sell a stake to a partner or go public again won’t be decided for another two to four years, after the turnaround has been completed,” said one source at the time. Benetton was delisted in 2012.

A longstanding executive of Pirelli, Gori is an industrial advisor to Idea Capital Funds SGR (De Agostini Group) and non-executive director of Snam Spa, Messaggerie Italiane Spa and Apollo Tyres Ltd.

In May 2014, Alessandro Benetton took a step back from his role as chairman of the family-owned company and, for the first time in the history of the brand, which turned 50 last year, a non-family member, Mion, was appointed to lead the business.

The board, which approved 2015 financial results, confirmed Marco Airoldi as chief executive officer and managing director. He was nominated ceo in 2014, succeeding Biagio Chiarolanza.

The year 2015 was the first to report figures for the commercial activities alone, which had been separated from the industrial and real estate activities at the end of 2014. The apparel business is part of the Benetton family’s holding Edizione Srl, whose investments range from highway catering and communications to real estate and agriculture. Edizione last year sold a majority stake in airport retailer World Duty Free to Dufry AG.

In the 12 months ended Dec. 31, Benetton reported a net loss of 46 million euros, or $51 million. The bottom line was dented by non-recurring charges of 21 million euros, or $23.3 million, and taxes of 18 million euros, or $20 million. In 2014, the textile and clothing division posted a loss of 91 million euros, or $121 million, reflecting the impact of preparatory measure taken as part of a turnaround program formalized that year with a three-year business plan for the 2015-17 period.

In 2015, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 34.5 percent to 54 million euros, or $60 million, compared with 40 million euros, or $53 million,  in 2014.

Operating profit totaled 2 million euros, or $2.2 million, compared to an operating loss of 17 million euros, or $22.6 million, in 2014, mainly due to the direct channel’s improvement in profitability.

Revenues totaled 1.53 billion euros, or $1.7 billion, down 1.2 percent compared with the previous year.

The performance was boosted by the group’s direct sales channel, following the adoption of the new retail model, showing a 6 percent growth in sales on a comparable basis. Shops renewed with the “On Canvas” concept format — more modular, flexible framework for the core collections — performed even better, obtaining results on average 20 percent higher compared to previous formats.

The group has been revamping its operations as it has sought to return to the growth path in the face of increasing competition from retailers such as H&M and Zara. The company has been cleaning up its network of stores, refurbishing and streamlining it. In the first seven months of last year, 100 stores opened globally, including in Italy, while over the previous two years, 300 stores were closed in that country.

In 2015, investments for the expansion of the retail network totaled 44 million euros, or $48.8 million. The company also renovated and expanded existing stores — in particular in Italy, Russia, France and Mexico.

The group’s net financial position was positive by 85 million euros, or $94.3 million, up from 33 million euros, or $44 million, on Jan. 1 2015. The increase was attributable to the positive trend of the working capital and EBITDA.

Dollar figures were converted from the euro at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.

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