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Leonardo Ferragamo: Angels Need to Put on His Purple Shoes

In Italy, the family is each- factor. Lots of the nation’s largest companies are still owned and run by dynasties, and the distinction between the boardroom desk and the kitchen table is often blurred. So when Leonardo Ferragamo, son of the late Salvatore Ferragamo who founded the eponymous luxurious goods empire, says “the family is the brand”, you recognize he means it.

Not like “Model Beckham”, assiduously cultivated by the footballer David and his superstar spouse, Victoria, this is no Johnny-come-currently advertising wheeze. Salvatore Ferragamo started one of the world’s grandest luxurious items businesses when he opened his first shoe shop in Florence in 1927. One in all his most celebrated pairs of sneakers have been the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. He was also chargeable for the steel-reinforced stiletto heels made famous by Marilyn Monroe.

By the 1950s, Salvatore Ferragamo was the shoe of selection for stars reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren and Greta Garbo. All through, he insisted that every one the corporate’s merchandise should solely be made in Italy to make sure quality was not compromised.

Leonardo, who has labored in the company all his life, says of his father: “He was a genius, a special person. But I never obtained to know him nicely as I used to be seven when he died.”

When Salvatore passed away aged 62 in 1960, his spouse, Wanda, took over the running of the business. With the assistance of her six youngsters, it has since expanded into a global concern, additionally selling luxury equipment resembling designer glasses, perfume, belts and scarves. Production has grown from 6,500 pairs of shoes a yr when Salvatore died to round 10,000 a day now. In 2005 the corporate made a profit of salvatore ferragamo incanto edp virtually $50m (£25m) on gross sales of $718m. Asia now represents half its revenues.

Leonardo learnt the artwork of shoemaking in the household business and went on to head the menswear division as well as spearheading the drive into Asia. He can be responsible for the family’s property investments and is the chairman of the yachting group Nautor, more of which later.

But Salvatore Ferragamo is set to vary. Final yr, for the primary time in its eighty-12 months history, someone from exterior the family was introduced in to run the business. Michele Norsa, previously the chief government of the rival Italian group Valentino, changed Wanda, now aged 85, who has turn out to be chairman as she cuts down her workload and prepares to go on the reins.

And in September, the corporate introduced its intention to float on the stock market, although the family will retain a majority 52 per cent shareholding.

The appointment of Mr Norsa, it’s hoped, will head off the infighting that has befallen other great household-run Italian businesses, such as Gucci and Pucci, when their patriarchs died and control passed to their kids.

“We’re a large household – there are 65 youngsters and grandchildren. It can be exhausting to select a brand new boss,” says Leonardo, who’s reported to have been liable for putting ahead the flotation plans to the family. “We have to modernise the corporate and get it ready for the subsequent technology.”

In interviews, Wanda has always strongly rejected the potential of selling the business, saying just lately she was “virtually offended” by the thought. If you loved this article and you wish to receive more details with regards to Luxottica assure visit our website. However she has conceded that her children, between whom possession of the corporate is divided, might feel otherwise. By going public, the second generation of Ferragamos will have the ability to promote their shares if they wish.

It is hard to tell whether or not Leonardo has found it troublesome having an outsider operating the household enterprise. “It is part of the transition,” he feedback. “We share the identical values.”

He also insists that having to answer to outside shareholders won’t be a problem. “They can be demanding. However that can be a great thing.”

Leonardo says that regardless of the flotation plans, Salvatore Ferragamo will stay true to its ideas and the household will still be heavily concerned even after it lists in around two years’ time.

The dynasty is one in all the company’s greatest belongings, he says. “A company owned by the household can transfer a degree of safety and integrity. It offers a guarantee of continuity. We do not simply rely on one man who comes and goes. The family is the brand.”

Central to the Salvatore Ferragamo brand is the “Made in Italy” stamp discovered on its products, denoting prime quality and good workmanship. For example, the company’s formal Tramezza sneakers are hand-made in a manufacturing facility close to Florence by half a dozen staff. Nevertheless, production costs are a lot larger than these of its competitors, a lot of which have shifted operations to Asia. Leonardo’s brother, Ferrucio, once complained in an interview that a few of the corporate’s employees worked fewer than eight hours each day and have been “spoiled”. They wanted, he hinted, to adapt to the global economy.

Leonardo doesn’t promise that every one the corporate’s items shall be made in Italy indefinitely: “We’ve got to maintain our eyes open. Issues change in the world. There are other opportunities around the world. We now have an open attitude to it.”

Apart from sneakers, Leonardo’s great love is crusing, a passion he has been in a position to bask in some style. In 1998, he bought Nautor, which makes the well-known Swan yachts, having sailed its boats for years as an enthusiast. In his Italian lilt, he recounts the “lovely story” of how he first got here to be concerned with the company, which has established such racing occasions as the Swan Regatta and the Swan Cup, and likewise scooped the trophy in 1973 for the primary Whitbread Round the World Race.

“I went to visit the manufacturing facility. A new world opened up to me,” he recalls. “I used to be amazed at the quality and reliability of every worker, particularly the satisfaction they were taking to make it particular.”

Leonardo appreciates good craftsmanship, salvatore ferragamo incanto edp whether or not in a shoe or a boat. Like Salvatore Ferragamo, Nautor focuses on high quality not quantity, making just 40 yachts a year, which range in worth from €400,000 (£250,000) to several million. “[Footwear and boats] are both types of transportation,” he adds without a trace of irony, warming to his theme. “The Swan yacht is about branding and high quality. Shoes aren’t just about aesthetics however what’s inside them. It is all about the identification of the product.”

BIOGRAPHY
Born 23 July 1953.

Education University of Imede, Lausanne, Switzerland – business administration diploma; Columbia University, New York – administration and finance degree.

Career at Salvatore Ferragamo
1973-75: assistant to director, leather division.

1975-80: director, men’s shoes division.
1980-87: director, males’s division.

1987-94: industrial director, Europe/Asia.
1994-2000: chief executive, Europe/South America/Asia.

2000 to now: chief govt of the holding firm.
Other Pursuits

Ferragamo Flats Patent RedBought Nautor in 1998, changing into chairman. Also chairman of the board at Camper & Nicholsons, the English yachting enterprise bought by Nautor in 2001.