MILAN — Italy’s luxury outerwear company Herno is making its first acquisition, which allows it to enter a new market segment: active sportswear.
Herno’s president and chief executive officer Claudio Marenzi has chosen to partner with Nuo SpA, backed by one of Italy’s major investors, Exor, and The World-Wide Investment Company Ltd., of the Hong Kong Pao family, to buy Montura.
Per the agreement, Herno will control Montura with a 55 percent stake. The acquisition is expected to be completed by January. The investment is pegged at around 100 million euros, Marenzi said.
The decision to buy Montura stems from a personal passion of Marenzi and from a business opportunity, based on the entrepreneur’s belief that being outdoors is becoming increasingly attractive, he said in an exclusive interview.
“I see a huge potential for Montura, which will be able to leverage Herno’s distribution platform and synergies in operations and digitally,” said Marenzi, who will take on the role of chief executive officer of Montura. That said, he underscored that Montura will operate entirely independently.
Asked about the decision to partner with Nuo, Marenzi said that, over the years, he’s had the opportunity to meet many investment funds, but that moved by the need to find a financial partner, this seemed “the most appropriate because it has a long-term vision, not speculative, in sync with my own idea to create value.”
In June, Exor revealed it was further expanding its reach, investing in consumer goods excellence by supporting the global development of medium-sized Italian companies specialized in this sector through Nuo.
The Elkann and Agnelli family’s holding Exor, which owns Ferrari, has invested in Hermès International’s China project Shang Xia, and in a minority stake in Christian Louboutin.
Nuo’s CEO Tommaso Paoli said that “faithful to our vision of growing Italian excellences, we could not wish for a better start for Montura, a brand and a product philosophy that represents the Italian spirit in all its meanings.”
He described Claudio Marenzi as “a visionary and determined entrepreneur who has shown through his company Herno, how the structure of medium-sized Italian companies can play a leading role in the global scene. Nuo will support the growth and development of Montura in the market thanks to the network and the resources of its two shareholders, Exor and WWIC. “
Marenzi said he has been mountaineering since the late ’70s and that he bought the first Montura Vertigo pants in 2001. “I found such great quality and have always liked its products,” he explained.
Montura was founded in Rovereto, Italy, in 2000 by Roberto Giordani and in 20 years has become a worldwide reference for mountaineers thanks to the quality of its technical mountain products.
“I met Roberto in 2016 and, although we come from different backgrounds, we shared the same entrepreneurial values, agreeing that the function of creating and redistributing wealth is essential,” Marenzi said.
Montura is “healthy and solid,” said Marenzi, with sales of more than 50 million euros and growing at a 30 percent clip in the past two years, despite the pandemic, which actually drove “a greater demand for products destined for the outdoors.”
It has a strong distribution in the European Alpine areas, as well as a solid business in South Korea and Japan. However, Giordani wished to sell the company to dedicate his time to his solidarity and charitable initiatives, explained Marenzi. “I liked the fact that Montura has its own strong community with activities supporting communities in Tibet, Mongolia and South America,” said Marenzi, who has created a foundation to continue on this path. Giordani will become president of the foundation and guarantee the quality of the projects.
Because of Giordani’s understated communication and development, Marenzi sees “huge growth potential” for the brand in certain areas such as the U.S., for example, where Montura is underdeveloped.
“Montura is a gem, whose high quality, research and development is undisputed, and with the right commercial development and communication it can substantially grow,” contended Marenzi.
He characterized the acquisition as “an important step, not necessarily the first of other acquisitions, but I am not ruling others out. This is in line with our path.”
Marenzi said Herno this year has recovered sales lost in 2020 and is projecting growth compared to 2019, when revenues amounted to 135 million euros. In 2021, the company is expected to report sales of more than 125 million euros.
Herno was founded by Marenzi’s parents Giuseppe Marenzi and Alessandra Diana in Lesa in Italy in 1948 and has built a reputation for manufacturing high-end outerwear. The brand started after World War II when Giuseppe lost his job working for an airplane manufacturer and joined a raincoat producer. He applied the skills he had acquired in military aviation by using castor oil, the same substance used in airplane fuel, to make waterproof cotton for the coats.
Marenzi, who is also president of Pitti Immagine, has been working at the company since he was a teenager and took the helm in 2007, deciding it was time to revamp Herno’s business model. Instead of manufacturing for other luxury brands, as it had done for several years in the ’80s, he opted to concentrate on growing the Herno label.
Herno blends technological expertise and modern sensibility. The label was among the first to use high-performance textiles, which it also combines with luxury fabrics in some pieces. Herno was also a pioneer in the use of lightweight down, which it injected into its garments instead of using sacks.