Family shareholders in luxury brand Salvatore Ferragamo have called off plans to sell a minority stake in the company and are seeking to overhaul its management, according to several people familiar with the situation.
The move comes as Ferragamo, famous for its shoes worn by Hollywood stars and its formal menswear, seeks to turn around its fortunes following years of fluctuating growth and the fallout from the Covid-19 crisis that has dragged on demand for luxury goods.
Last year the Ferragamo family, which owns a 54 per cent stake in Milan-listed Ferragamo Finanziaria, that controls the brand, explored selling a minority stake in the holding company to raise capital.
However, several investors who were approached said they were put off by the fact that the Ferragamo family would not relinquish any control over the company’s governance in exchange for a stake sale.
According to several people close to the family, the sale option has been put on hold while the group focuses on relaunching the brand with new management. Sale talks could be restarted at a later stage.
“Covid-19 has been a tsunami for the company but the family loves it and it [is not ready] to sell,” said one of the people.
“The family has now opted to prioritise a turnaround of the company, beginning with an overhaul of the management,” said one investor who was approached to buy a minority stake.
Contracts for Ferragamo’s creative director and chief executive, which will expire in the next few months, are unlikely to be renewed, according to several people familiar with the situation.
Creative director Paul Andrew, a British footwear designer, and chief executive Micaela Le Divelec, a former Gucci executive, were appointed in 2019. The duo’s failure to rejuvenate the brand and make it more appealing to younger customers, such as Chinese millennials, has hindered growth, the people said.
Ferragamo declined to comment.
The brand’s revenues dropped 38.5 per cent during the first nine months of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019, amid prolonged boutique closures and global lockdowns to combat the march of the coronavirus pandemic.
The company, which is due to announce its full-year results on Thursday, said last week that it had hired an executive search company to select independent members ahead of the renewal of its board in March.
Ferragamo Finanziaria also appointed former Goldman Sachs banker Claudio Costamagna to the board following the resignation of Giuseppe Anichini, a longtime aide of the Ferragamo family.
The new independent board members will replace members of the family “as per best practices”, the company said. The family also agreed the new chairman of the family holding would not have an executive role.
Thomas Chauvet, a luxury analyst at Citi, said Ferragamo “is not growing much, but it’s not distressed either. I believe that the family is keen to make it work, they love the business, there’s no sense of urgency”.
According to another investor, the brand’s debt levels are low and while “some members of the Ferragamo family would rather sell to cash in and focus on other investments, the company still has space for manoeuvre before it is forced to sell”.