MILAN — Carlo Benetton died Tuesday in Treviso, Italy, after battling cancer for six months. He was 74 and the youngest of the Benetton siblings, who also include Luciano, Giuliana and Gilberto and who together founded the Benetton fashion group in 1965, building it into an international powerhouse in the Eighties and Nineties, leveraging a streamlined organization and manufacturing pipeline.
He is survived by his four children: Christian, Massimo, Andrea and Leone. A funeral service will be held on July 13 at 10 a.m. at the Duomo cathedral in Treviso.
Throughout his career at the family group, Carlo Benetton was in charge of the industrial strategies connected to production. He left the group’s board in 2013, two years after its delisting from the Milan Stock Exchange.
Benetton was managing the Compania Tierras del Sur Argentina SA in Patagonia and which is understood to be the biggest property in that country, harvesting sheep there and investing in forestation programs. He was also president of the Tenute Maccarese, one of the most relevant Italian agricultural companies and based in the Lazio region outside Rome, controlled by the Benetton group’s parent company Edizione Srl. Carlo Benetton was a director on the board of Edizione, which is one of the largest Italian holding companies with revenues totaling 11.7 billion euros and equity investments in sectors including infrastructure and mobility services, highway and commercial catering, food and beverages, textiles and clothing, real estate and agriculture, and stakes in giant insurance company Assicurazioni Generali SpA and global merchant bank Mediobanca SpA, among others.
Carlo Benetton and his son Andrea took control of leading cow milk producer Cirio Agricola in 2005 and on Tuesday, Paolo Grendene, chief executive officer of that company, said Benetton had “stoically endured [the illness] and did not show any sign of decline, continuing to follow the restructuring of the agricultural holding in Piana di Monte Verna, acquired 12 years ago.”
Over the past few months, Benetton was especially involved in the restoration of the Fagianeria [phaesantry] building dating back to the House of Bourbon and part of the Cirio Agricola property near Caserta, Italy. “This was the last important piece of his personal painstaking work to reorganize the company,” said Grendene.
In 2005, the Benetton brand turned 40, but the company postponed the celebrations until October the following year to coincide with the opening of a photography exhibition by Fabrica, the group’s creative think tank, called “Fabrica: Les Yeux Ouverts,” at Paris’ Centre Pompidou. Benetton hosted a fashion show and two celebratory dinners at the museum, inviting the likes of Patti Smith and Spike Lee along with about 1,200 franchise partners, business associates and journalists from around the world. The show was streamed live on the web. The family chose Paris as the venue as the city is where Benetton opened its first store outside Italy, in 1969.
Luciano Benetton, who just turned 83, has been back in the news because in January he once again took the reins of the family-owned company as executive president, with the aim of turning around the fashion group after years of declining sales. He had retired in April 2012, passing the baton to his son Alessandro, who then exited the company after two years. Oliviero Toscani, who famously collaborated for years on controversial ad campaigns in the Eighties and Nineties, which ranged from the portrayal of people on death row to a priest kissing a nun, is back to help rejuvenate the group’s communication.