MILAN — Diego Della Valle is again lending a helping hand.
The Italian entrepreneur, chairman and chief executive officer of Tod’s Group said Tuesday that he would fund the construction of a manufacturing plant in Arquata del Tronto, in the area of the Marche region in central Italy hit by the deadly earthquake in August. The plant is expected to be up and running within year and will produce footwear for the Tod’s brand.
The region is a historical footwear manufacturing hub and Tod’s itself is based in Casette d’Ete, about 63 miles away from Arquata.
Della Valle’s pledge to support Arquata was made during Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s visit to Tod’s headquarters on Tuesday. Della Valle’s brother Andrea, president of the Hogan brand, also toured the plant with Renzi.
An area of 43,200 square feet has been earmarked for the construction in Arquata and young workers from the city and the surrounding area will be hired after a period of training at Tod’s Comunanza plant, also in the Marche region. Della Valle has always been a firm supporter of Made in Italy production and the group’s craftsmanship is a source of pride for him.
The investment in the new factory wasn’t disclosed at press time.
Renzi has been mingling with Italy’s fashion world much more frequently in the last year, hosting the opening lunch for Milan Fashion Week both in February and in September. His visit to the Tod’s headquarters came as the prime minister is touring the country to push through his agenda for change in Italy’s political system. Della Valle was an ardent and earlier supporter of Renzi’s, although recently he had distanced himself from some of the prime minister’s policies.
Della Valle has been vocal about “the world of solidarity,” as he told WWD in July, discussing his “Noi Italiani [We Italians]” project, which was seen by the media as a political party, signaling his stepping into politics. Della Valle dismissed the notion, saying, “Noi Italiani is focused on supporting the country on what is perhaps the most important thing we have — the artistic and cultural patrimony, which means a lot of new jobs, especially for young people.” He said he thought all companies should initiate the “solidarity operation in their territories to support people who need it the most.”
Della Valle’s most public effort to support the country so far has been the restoration of the Colosseum. The first part of works, started in September 2013, has been completed and an event marking the milestone was held in July, in the presence of Renzi, whom Della Valle has backed in an on-again-off-again-on-again relationship.
In 2010, Della Valle revealed he was pledging 25 million euros, or $28 million at current exchange rates, for the works.
The entrepreneur has over the years helped Tod’s employees and the group’s territory with a number of initiatives, including bonuses for each worker, health insurance for them and their families, and the purchase of school books for their children. Della Valle, whose Tod’s headquarters has a nursery, has supported the construction of a school nearby.