MILAN — Prada chief executive Patrizio Bertelli has lured Anthony Romano, currently managing director and general manager of Calvin Klein Europe, to become general manager of the Luna Rossa sailing team, which is making its third attempt to win the America’s Cup.
The appointment is effective June 1. Part New Zealander, part Italian and an avid sailor, Romano joined Calvin Klein nine years ago. A Calvin Klein spokeswoman said the split was amicable and that the company is currently looking to fill the position.
Romano will report to Giacomo Ovidi, ceo of the Luna Rossa team. Francesco De Angelis, Luna Rossa’s historical skipper, has been practicing in Valencia, Spain, with the team since last month. The race series will be held in Valencia in 2007.
Last December, Bertelli said, “It would be a crime not to take advantage of our means and experience so close to home” and that he cherished the new challenge. Luna Rossa won the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2000, qualifying it to race in the America’s Cup. Bertelli’s boat then lost to Team New Zealand in a best-of-nine series of races.
The sleek silver and red Luna Rossa was eliminated from the Louis Vuitton Cup in New Zealand in January 2003.
As reported, Bertelli will seek partners to co-sponsor the new challenge, whereas before, Luna Rossa was entirely supported by Prada. Two years ago, Bertelli sold the organization that manages the Luna Rossa boats to Maestrale Holding Srl, which is wholly owned by the Prada family, in an effort to streamline his business in preparation for an eventual initial public offering.
Bertelli estimated the new project will cost around $95 million. The last time around, Bertelli spent $140 million on the challenge.
In a separate development, Prada said it plans to suspend the Genny clothing line, while maintaining the profitable eyewear and perfume licenses for the brand, with Luxottica and Morris, respectively. “We are reallocating the Genny manufacturing resources to the production of Prada’s clothing line, to meet an increasing global demand,” said a Prada spokesman, adding the head count in Ancona, where the plants are located, will “remain unchanged and will be used to complement Prada’s production.”
In July 2001, Prada bought Genny and Byblos from its chairman, Donatella Girombelli. In spring 2002, Prada sold the Byblos brand to Swinger International. Bertelli has always declared his interest in Genny’s production facilities — the technologically advanced factories, built in the early Nineties when the Byblos and Genny brands were at their apex, can produce 600,000 units annually, specializing in jackets, coats and clothing in lightweight fabrics. In addition, they have ample warehouse capacity.