“A fun, quality product; sparkling windows; the shareholders’ unity of intent, and a multicultural team that believes in the project make this an enjoyable place to work and all contribute to a successful alchemy propelling the expansion,” said Camerlengo at Furla’s sleek offices here.
In 2016, revenues at the Italian accessories company rose to 422 million euros, or $464.2 million at average exchange. Profits were not disclosed, but the general director said earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization climbed 48 percent last year.
“We are very happy,” said an upbeat Camerlengo. “Customers are attentive and selective. The growth is not necessarily linked to being in the premium sector, but more to the product, and a demand for novelty,” he claimed. “In general, there is too much sameness [in the market], with similar shapes and colors in the windows. Our additional sparkle is a draw — an opportunity to buy into variety and creativity.”
To prove his point, Camerlengo referred to the performance of Furla’s colorful and playful Jungle accessories, which “were sold out in four days in our New York store.”
The company, which marks its 90th anniversary this year, produces in Italy and Camerlengo underscored “a bigger effort from the supply chain, with more complex craftsmanship and more suppliers,” to meet the market demand.
Camerlengo emphasized “a balanced” growth across countries and distribution channels in 2016.
Sales in Italy rose 18 percent and accounted for 20 percent of total sales.
Japan continues to be Furla’s main market, and sales in the region gained 31.7 percent, representing 24 percent of the total. The men’s division, which was introduced in 2015, already accounts for 11 percent of sales in the region. “It’s a good sign for us, and it shows that we should continue to invest in the category. Japanese customers are very demanding, both in terms of aesthetics and quality, so they are our main critics,” he said.
Revenues in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, excluding Italy, represented 29 percent of the total and were up 23.5 percent. Furla is investing in Germany, where a store will open in Frankfurt in 2018. “Germany is still unexplored,” said Camerlengo. There is a Furla store in Munich and the brand is available in department stores. A pop-up store is operating at Berlin’s KaDeWe until March 26.
A unit will also open in May or June in Amsterdam.
England reported “a leap,” said Camerlengo, benefiting from the lower pound due to Brexit and a rush of tourists. The company last year opened a second venue in London, on Brompton Road, with a “lighter concept and softer colors, which is working very well.” Furla will model its stores after this blueprint going forward.
In 2016, the Asia-Pacific region posted a 28.3 percent gain and represented 19 percent of the total. At the end of the year, there were 179 stores, of which 47 directly operated in the region. “China is growing. Like-for-like sales there were up 34 percent in 2016 on a 41 percent like-for-like growth in 2015,” said Camerlengo. “It’s an infinite world,” he said, pointing to the possibilities for the brand in the region.
Last year, Furla opened a store in Shanghai at Citic Square and in Hong Kong at Mira Mall, with a 3,240-square-foot façade that lights up at night. Asked about the performance in Hong Kong, Camerlengo said it was “exceptional because our like-for-like is flat. It’s incredible not to report a decrease.” In Macao, Furla has four stores, which perform “very well. The challenge there is to find local personnel, as there are so many new retailers on the scene,” observed Camerlengo.
Sales in the U.S. climbed 16.3 percent and accounted for 8 percent of the total. There are 11 directly operated stores in cities such as New York; Boston; Miami (at Coral Gables); Long Island (Roosevelt Field); Honolulu, and a pop-up in San Francisco, as well as six franchised stores and four travel retail units. Camerlengo admitted the U.S. grew at a slower pace compared with the other markets, but explained that Furla consolidated steps taken in 2015 to “reinforce the team,” with the arrival of a new chief executive officer of the Americas, Scott M. Link, in November 2015, and a flagship on Fifth Avenue opened that fall after missing from New York for a few years following the closure of the brand’s boutique on Madison Avenue.
Retail sales last year accounted for 64 percent of total revenues. In 2016, Furla opened 29 stores, of which 12 were franchised. Like-for-like sales grew 9 percent compared with the previous year. There are 444 stores in the world, of which 50 percent are directly operated. The brand is available at more than 1,200 multibrand and department stores. Furla is distributed in 100 countries.
Travel retail gained 40 percent compared with 2015. In 2016, there were 262 airport doors compared with 162 doors in 2015. “This is a very profitable market. It’s like having an ad in each airport, our customers travel a lot, and this way they are reminded that Furla is present,” Camerlengo remarked.
He was also upbeat about the beginning of this year. “It started well, we are happy and on trend,” he said.
Last May, after years of speculation, Furla said it had set in motion plans to go public, inking an agreement with TIP Tamburi Investment Partners SpA. The Marzotto, Loro Piana and Ferragamo families are among the investors in TIP, which also has stakes in Hugo Boss and Ferrari. In 2013, TIP invested in Remo Ruffini’s holding company, Ruffini Partecipazioni, indirectly buying a stake in Moncler, which went public at the end of 2013.
Giovanni Tamburi, president and ceo of TIP and one of Italy’s highest-profile investors, said the plan was to invest 15 million euros, or $16 million, to issue a convertible loan for the capital increase, which will be automatically swapped into Furla shares at the future listing. TIP is committed to underwrite an additional 15 million euros on the day of the listing at the same economic conditions offered to the market. A further quota of shares will be allotted to TIP and sources estimate another 15 million euros to 30 million euros, or $16 million to $32 million, will be paid then.
Giovanna Furlanetto, president of Furla, in February said the company is in “no rush” to go public, having “no need of support to grow financially,” and due to the lack of clarity on the markets, “so the listing may be pushed back.” Tamburi had tentatively set the IPO for 2018, depending on market conditions.