Versace family may consider sale option for growth

Thu Apr 4, 2013 2:11pm EDT
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By Antonella Ciancio

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian fashion house Versace, one of the last family-owned luxury groups, may consider opening the company to outside investors to help fund expansion in overseas markets such as Asia, its chief executive said.

Founded in 1978 by the late Gianni Versace, the group faces the same dilemma as peers such as Missoni, Roberto Cavalli and Giorgio Armani - keep the business in the family or give up some control in return for the investment needed to catch up with rivals which have already taken that path.

Italy, whose economy relies heavily on family businesses, has failed to create conglomerates like France's LVMH and PPR because of owners' reluctance to cede control.

"The family is now aware that we need to seize the moment and fund our growth," Chief Executive Gian Giacomo Ferraris told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.

"We are asking ourselves how fast we could go if instead of a Mercedes we owned a Ferrari," Ferraris told Reuters.

Ferraris, a retail veteran of Gucci and Jil Sander, said the company has set no deadline for any deal and can meet its existing growth targets without outside help.

A company spokesman said "a sale is an option not a necessity".

Versace, whose glittering gowns are worn by stars such as Lady Gaga and Madonna, raised the prospect of an imminent sale last May when it hired investment banks Goldman Sachs and Intesa Sanpaolo's Banca Imi as advisers.   Continued...

Pedestrians walk past the Versace store on Fifth Avenue in New York October 8, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson