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22 Dec

Liu Jo, Blumarine Owner Still Pondering Group IPO

MILAN — An IPO remains to be within the cards for the owner of Liu Jo and Blumarine, EIH Eccellenze Italiane, because the group, which also owns a minority stake in retailer Coin, keeps evaluating market conditions.

In an interview with WWD, founder and president of the board Marco Marchi pointed to robust growth for the conglomerate, spurred by customer loyalty to the Liu Jo contemporary brand and the successful creative shift at Blumarine.

Hiring Moncler SpA alum Paola Durante as general manager for Liu Jo last June suggested a renewed interest to go public for Marchi, who had originally planned an inventory of Liu Jo in 2018, a project that the entrepreneur has said was postponed due to unfavorable market conditions.

The manager now says the listing of the whole group is on the table, characterizing the potential move as a chance relatively than a necessity.

“Since 2018, the corporate has been organized to be ready at any time when a chance pops up. Paola’s arrival is a robust plus, for the talents she developed throughout her profession, and since she selected an organization that has the correct features to turn into a successful case story. The proven fact that [she decided to] share a journey geared at a rare operation [listing] is a reason of pride because it means we had headed in the correct direction [before],” Marchi told WWD.

A date has not been set in the intervening time as Eccellenze Italiane needs “to seize the perfect moment to make it work successfully,” Marchi said.

“We see a posh and turmoiled environment available in the market, so we don’t see [listing] as a chance within the short term. Nonetheless, we’re committed to continue to grow in a healthy and responsible manner… we are going to do it at any time when all conditions align, otherwise we are going to keep doing what we do in a virtuous way,” he said.

“My ambition is to be sure that Italian firms can survive the entrepreneur who founded them,” Marchi explained. “It is a must and a priority high on my agenda day by day. I feel that an IPO today is an excellent and essential opportunity not just for the group per se but additionally for the brands joining it to ensure a solid and virtuous future for them.”

The entrepreneur dodged questions on making additional acquisitions, but said ongoing conversations are happening with several parties. “I value the thought of synergies and [shared] know-how in supporting growth with respect to the identities of every brand. We’re at all times having conversations with entrepreneurs who’re triggered and interested in Eccellenze Italiane because the house for brands within the premium segment,” he said.

Marco Marchi, founder and president of the board of directors of EIH Eccellenze Italiane.

Courtesy of EIH Eccellenze Italiane

Marchi established the conglomerate on the heels of the acquisition in November 2019 of the Gruppo Blufin and its brands Blumarine, Blugirl, Anna Molinari and Be Blumarine, every week after announcing he had bought a 15 percent stake in Coin SpA.

The manager declined to reveal the group’s total revenues for 2022 beyond saying they jumped double digits in comparison with the previous 12 months, but detailed performances for the style brands in its portfolio.

The flagship Liu Jo brand navigated 2022, a 12 months he described as “unprecedented” and impacted by the war in Europe and rising inflation that dented consumer confidence and spending power in Europe, by leveraging its global brand awareness.

“Remaining top of mind for our clientele despite the present climate has helped us achieve great results,” Marchi said, adding that recent markets including the Middle East and Latin America, especially Mexico, proved dynamic and drawn to Made in Italy.

To this end, Liu Jo, which in 2021 posted revenues of 411 million euros, introduced a recent eco-minded store concept at Abu Dhabi’s The Galleria Al Maryah Island in October, and on the Dubai Mall of Emirates in August. It also strengthened its presence in Mexico, unveiling six corners on the El Palácio De Hierro department store.

Inside a Liu Jo store.

Inside a Liu Jo store.

Daniele La Malfa/Courtesy of Liu Jo

Europe, Germany, France and Spain are growing exponentially for the brand, Marchi said. In Spain, Liu Jo opened two stores this month for a complete of 32, and plans five more units by 2025.

The retail push doesn’t necessarily suggest Liu Jo is completed with wholesale, which currently accounts for 60 percent of the business.

During COVID-19, the wholesale system was challenged by the industry, but Marchi opined that “on this unprecedented moment, the shopper service provided by wholesale accounts has a pivotal role in securing customers’ loyalty,” adding that the corporate has benefited from its omnichannel business model.

The entrepreneur took pride within the successful turnaround of the Blumarine brand, for which he expects revenues to hit the 50 million euros threshold in a couple of years.

Despite the headwinds brought on by the pandemic and consequent need to regulate the strategy, Marchi pointed to a recent phase for the brand through the introduction of latest product categories, including handbags, that are viewed as pivotal in expanding its scope and to fuel the Y2K aesthetic that creative director Nicola Brognano has imprinted on Blumarine since his appointment in 2019.

“The trail has been marked by obstacles as a result of the extraordinary market conditions,” said Marchi, explaining that its “aesthetics needed to be fixed and tweaked.”

The novel change in perception has reverberated across business units and influenced the distribution strategy.

“In Italy, storied retailers that were drawn to the brand’s previous look saw [the change] as a friction and at the identical time, 70 percent of our turnover is now generated abroad, where this recent daring aesthetic is reaping its rewards,” Marchi said.


The “Butterfly Bag” by Blumarine.

Courtesy of Blumarine

Blumarine’s best-performing markets are the U.S., the U.K. and South Korea and its presence on the digital shelves of premium e-tailers and real interest amongst celebrities and social media personalities is proof the strategy is working, Marchi contended.

Blumarine currently operates two stores in Rome and Forte dei Marmi, Italy. The Rome store will undergo a revamp and reopen next summer with a recent concept in keeping with Brognano’s vision.

Marchi said he was cautious about expanding a retail footprint for the brand, given its “radical aesthetic change.”

The manager characterised his investment in Coin as not only equity ownership but additionally as an asset for the opposite brands Eccellenze Italiane controls.

The Italian retailer is at the middle of M&A activities, and last June OVS announced it had submitted a letter of intent to all shareholders to take over Coin. An exclusive due diligence kicked off soon thereafter, and its final result is predicted in January 2023, Marchi said.

He sees opportunities for Coin even when the acquisition falls through. “I don’t see independence as necessarily a negative scenario,” Marchi opined.

After the shop closures brought on by the lockdowns over the past two years, the retailer is now gaining ground again and can open a recent door in Milan’s Piazza Cordusio in 2023. Also, it has recently unveiled a recent Florence outpost inside central Loggia del Grano.

Individually this week, Coin said it has sold the constructing in Rome’s San Giovanni neighborhood housing one in all its banners on the town to the Fondo Torre IV fund, strengthening its financial position.

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