Valentino sees signs of market recovery

Mon Jun 1, 2009 8:24am EDT
 
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MILAN (Reuters Life!) - Fashion group Valentino said it expects 2009 to be a tough year in luxury retail but has seen resilience in quality labels such as Marlboro and Hugo Boss.

Chief Executive Officer Stefano Sassi told Corriere della Sera newspaper that the luxury firm has seen a recovery in trade since the middle of April.

"In the first quarter we lost a bit in terms of turnover and profitability, but from the middle of April, we are seeing a recovery," he said in an interview published in the newspaper's CorriereEconomia business section on Monday.

This year "will be more difficult" than 2008, he added. The design house, which includes Valentino and Hugo Boss labels as well as the license for Marlboro clothing, will focus on controlling costs.

"This crisis has mostly hit luxury, while a line like Marlboro for example is holding at last year's levels and even Hugo Boss is standing its ground," Sassi said.

"But April and May are giving very encouraging signals for Valentino as well," he added.

Valentino Fashion Group, which is controlled by private equity group Permira, increased turnover 3 percent in 2008 to 2.2 billion euros ($3.08 billion) while core profit slipped to 320.4 million euros from 330.3 million euros.

Valentino's founder, Valentino Garavani, retired in January 2008 after heading the house for nearly half a century and making its trademark red evening gowns regulars on the red carpets at the Oscars, Cannes film festival and elsewhere.

His successor, Alessandra Facchinetti, lasted less than a year before leaving "embittered." She was replaced by in-house team Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli.   Continued...

 
<p>Actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Italian fashion designer Valentino Garavani pose at the West Coast premiere of the documentary "Valentino: The Last Emperor" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in Los Angeles April 1, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>