MILAN — The Italian transformation of Scottish cashmere brand Ballantyne is nearing completion.
Investment group Charme has teamed up with the label’s president and creative director to buy 100 percent of the company from Britain’s Dawson International plc for $26.2 million, or 14.6 million British pounds.
Charme, which counts such investors as Ferrari chief Luca di Montezemolo and Tod’s chief Diego Della Valle, will hold 70 percent of Ballantyne while president Alfredo Canessa and creative director Massimo Alba will own the remaining 30 percent. Charme recently acquired control of furniture firm Poltrona Frau.
Over the past year and a half, Alba and Canessa have been working to relaunch the brand into a punchier, more feminine direction. Canessa created the brand Malo and sold the company to IT Holding in 1999.
Canessa, speaking by phone from Scotland, said he and Alba are optimistic that Charme can dedicate more time and attention to relaunching the knitwear label than Dawson, a conglomerate with many divisions.
“With Charme, we evaluated the possibility of bringing the brand home [to Italy],” Canessa said. “In our opinion, [Dawson] didn’t dedicate enough resources to this project.”
Ballantyne said it will keep its knitwear manufacturing in Scotland, where it employs 220 employees. Production of coats, jackets and other apparel was recently moved to Italy.
Fresh from recent store openings in London’s Notting Hill and Tokyo, Canessa said that the brand will now focus on growing its presence in German-speaking countries and the U.S. Turnover was about $24.5 million (or 20 million euros at current exchange) in 2003.
The Ballantyne sale is the latest development in the history of Scottish cashmere company Dawson International. Last August, the company’s ceo, Paul Munn, quit his post amid growing losses and shareholder ire over his salary and bonus payments.
At that time, non-executive chairman Mike Hartley became executive chairman after only six weeks with the firm. Hartley replaced Ian Irvine, who quit as chairman of Dawson in a boardroom shakeup.
— Amanda Kaiser