NEW DEAL: London-based retail and consumer goods investor Lion Capital has signed a deal with Alessandro Benetton’s 21 Partners private equity group, making the British firm the majority shareholder of footwear retailer PittaRosso.

21 Partners, founded in 1992 with the name 21 Investimenti, will retain a stake in PittaRosso, and Andrea Cipolloni will remain the company’s chief executive officer.

Expressing pride in PittaRosso’s recent growth, 21 Partners founding managing partner Benetton said the company offered “proof that passion and courage, combined with competence and determination, make it possible to create leading businesses even in difficult market conditions.”

“We are happy to accompany Lion Capital and its management over the next years of development for this extraordinary company,” Benetton added.

Since 21 Partners first invested in PittaRosso in 2011, the firm more than doubled its turnover, which is expected to hit 240 million euros, or about $295 million at current exchange, at the end of this year. PittaRosso also upped its door count  to 120 from 57, and entered new markets, such as Slovenia, where it has five stores, and France, where it has three but is planning an additional 50 over the next two years.
The number of employees has also more than doubled, totaling 1,400 from 630. PittaRosso aims to reach 800 million euros in turnover, or $983 million, in the next five years.

“Over the past three years, PittaRosso has emerged as a leader in Italy’s footwear market,” said Lion Capital partner Javier Ferran. “Andrea Cipolloni and his team have done an extraordinary job in growing the network of stores quickly and in a sustainable way, and we believe that the company continues to have remarkable potential both in Italy and abroad.”

Lion Capital also counts Jimmy Choo, American Apparel, Alain Afflelou and John Varvatos in its investment portfolio.

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