Backstage at Etro-RTW-Fall-2019

DEAL OR NO DEAL?: A decision on the Roberto Cavalli sale is imminent, a few days after Brunello Cucinelli revealed his succession plans and Furla’s owner and president Giovanna Furlanetto admitted the brand has been courted but, at the same time, firmly denied the company is for sale. Last month, Trussardi was acquired by QuattroR Asset Management Co. against a backdrop that sees Italian companies tackle generational changes and merger and acquisition rumors swirl around other storied brands such as Buccellati. Last year, another family company, Missoni, sold a 41.2 percent stake to FSI Midmarket Growth Equity Fund, and Michael Kors Holdings bought Versace, renaming itself Capri Holdings.

Now Etro is in the mix. According to sources, investors have also been looking at the fashion brand, which last year celebrated its 50th anniversary with an exhibition in Milan named “Generation Paisley” — a reference to the company’s most recognizable pattern. Gerolamo Etro, known as Gimmo, founded the company in 1968 as a textile firm, and, with a forward-thinking initiative decided to invest in ready-to-wear and lifestyle in the Eighties, expanding into collections that ranged from perfumes to suitcases. The exhibit was conceived and put together by the family, which includes siblings Veronica, creative director for the women’s collections; Kean, men’s creative director; Ippolito, who oversees strategic management, and Jacopo.

Sources say that one fund that has been eyeing Etro with particular interest is Qatar-based Mayhoola, which also counts Valentino, Balmain and the Italian men’s label Pal Zileri among its investments, and which earlier this month split from Anya Hindmarch Ltd.

Asked to comment on the speculation, an Etro spokesman said, “The family is not interested in selling,” while admitting that, given the solidity of the brand, potential investors have been circling.

Last month, general manager Francesco Freschi, told WWD that Etro, being a family-owned company, had a long-term strategic vision, with well-balanced markets that help offset global uncertainties, as Europe represents 30 percent of sales; Asia another 30 percent; the U.S., 20 percent, with the rest of the world representing the remainder. The company is now busy consolidating its positioning with loyal customers, but also expanding its customer base, investing in communication and marketing, strengthening the experience in stores and increasing digital content, Freschi said. Etro counts more than 200 stores, and it is also mapping out operations with its wholesale partners. “We want to increase Etro’s visibility, create interest, ink new collaborations and co-branding deals and perhaps offer some see-now-buy-now capsules,” he noted at the time.

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