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Leonardo Ferragamo: Angels Need to Wear His Purple Footwear

In Italy, the family is every- factor. Lots of the country’s biggest companies are still owned and run by dynasties, and the distinction between the boardroom desk and the kitchen table is commonly blurred. So when Leonardo Ferragamo, son of the late Salvatore Ferragamo who founded the eponymous luxurious items empire, says “the household is the brand”, you know he means it.

Unlike “Model Beckham”, assiduously cultivated by the footballer David and his celeb spouse, Victoria, this is not any Johnny-come-currently marketing wheeze. Salvatore Ferragamo began one of the world’s grandest luxury goods companies when he opened his first shoe shop in Florence in 1927. One among his most celebrated pairs of shoes had been the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. He was additionally accountable for the metal-strengthened stiletto heels made famous by Marilyn Monroe.

By the 1950s, Salvatore Ferragamo was the shoe of selection for stars equivalent to Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren and Greta Garbo. Throughout, he insisted that all the corporate’s merchandise ought to only be made in Italy to verify quality was not compromised.

Leonardo, who has labored in the company all his life, says of his father: “He was a genius, a particular person. But I by no means bought to know him properly as I was seven when he died.”

When Salvatore passed away aged 62 in 1960, his spouse, Wanda, took over the running of the enterprise. With the assistance of her six kids, it has since expanded into a global concern, additionally promoting luxury accessories such as designer glasses, perfume, belts and scarves. Manufacturing has grown from 6,500 pairs of footwear a yr when Salvatore died to round 10,000 a day now. In 2005 the corporate made a revenue of virtually $50m (£25m) on sales of $718m. Asia now represents half its revenues.

Leonardo learnt the art of shoemaking within the family enterprise and went on to head the menswear division in addition to spearheading the drive into Asia. He is also responsible for the family’s property investments and is the chairman of the yachting group Nautor, more of which later.

However Salvatore Ferragamo is about to alter. Final year, for the first time in its eighty-yr historical past, somebody from outdoors the household was introduced in to run the business. Michele Norsa, formerly the chief govt of the rival Italian group Valentino, changed Wanda, now aged eighty five, who has grow to be chairman as she cuts down her workload and prepares to cross on the reins.

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

The appointment of Mr Norsa, it is hoped, will head off the infighting that has befallen different nice family-run Italian companies, equivalent to Gucci and Pucci, when their patriarchs died and control passed to their youngsters.

“We are a big family – there are 65 children and grandchildren. It could be hard to pick a new boss,” says Leonardo, who’s reported to have been answerable for putting ahead the flotation plans to the salvatore ferragamo wallet singapore household. “We need to modernise the company and get it ready for the next generation.”

In interviews, Wanda has always strongly rejected the possibility of selling the enterprise, saying not too long ago she was “virtually offended” by the thought. Should you loved this informative article and you would want to receive more details relating to Luxottica i implore you to visit our web page. However she has conceded that her youngsters, between whom ownership of the company is divided, may feel differently. By going public, the second generation of Ferragamos will be capable of promote their shares if they wish.

It is difficult to inform whether or not Leonardo has discovered it troublesome having an outsider operating the family business. “It’s part of the transition,” he feedback. “We share the identical values.”

He additionally insists that having to answer to exterior shareholders is not going to be a problem. “They can be demanding. However that can be an excellent factor.”

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

The dynasty is one among the corporate’s best property, he says. “An organization owned by the household can switch a level of security and integrity. It offers a guarantee of continuity. We don’t simply depend on one man who comes and goes. The household is the brand.”

Central to the Salvatore Ferragamo brand is the “Made in Italy” stamp discovered on its products, denoting high quality and good workmanship. For instance, the company’s formal Tramezza footwear are hand-made in a manufacturing facility close to Florence by half a dozen employees. Nonetheless, production costs are a lot increased than these of its rivals, a lot of which have shifted operations to Asia. salvatore ferragamo wallet singapore Leonardo’s brother, Ferrucio, as soon as complained in an interview that some of the company’s employees labored fewer than eight hours each day and were “spoiled”. They wanted, he hinted, to adapt to the global economic system.

Leonardo doesn’t promise that each one the corporate’s goods shall be made in Italy indefinitely: “We’ve to keep our eyes open. Things change on the earth. There are other alternatives around the world. We now have an open angle to it.”

Other than sneakers, Leonardo’s nice love is crusing, a passion he has been able to take pleasure in some type. In 1998, he purchased Nautor, which makes the famous Swan yachts, having sailed its boats for years as an enthusiast. In his Italian lilt, he recounts the “beautiful story” of how he first got here to be involved with the company, which has established such racing occasions because the Swan Regatta and the Swan Cup, and also scooped the trophy in 1973 for the primary Whitbread Round the World Race.

“I went to go to the manufacturing unit. A new world opened as much as me,” he recalls. “I was amazed at the quality and reliability of each worker, especially the pride they have been taking to make it special.”

Leonardo appreciates good craftsmanship, whether or not in a shoe or a boat. Like Salvatore Ferragamo, Nautor focuses on high quality not amount, making just 40 yachts a yr, which vary in worth from €400,000 (£250,000) to a number of million. “[Shoes and boats] are each forms of transportation,” he provides without a hint of irony, warming to his theme. “The Swan yacht is about branding and quality. Sneakers are not just about aesthetics however what’s inside them. It is all about the identification of the product.”

Born 23 July 1953.

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

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

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

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

2000 to now: chief executive of the holding firm.
Different Interests

Ferragamo Mediterraneo Continental Wallet RedPurchased Nautor in 1998, changing into chairman. Additionally chairman of the board at Camper & Nicholsons, the English yachting enterprise purchased by Nautor in 2001.