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Ferragamo chairman rules out sale of iconic brand

[PARIS] Ferruccio Ferragamo, chairman of the luxury clothing and accessories company Salvatore Ferragamo SpA, ruled out a sale of the brand.

"I'm in love with this company and it's not for sale," Ferragamo said Saturday at the brand's autumn-winter fashion show in Milan. "There's a lot of energy in the brand. We have a lot of programmess coming to turn that energy into good news in the coming weeks and months."

The company on Friday promoted womenswear designer Paul Andrew to oversee the whole brand as creative director, a step Chief Executive Officer Micaela Le Divelec Lemmi called a "natural evolution."

"The idea is to reinforce the coherence and the consistency throughout the brand," said Le Divelec Lemmi, a former finance chief at Kering SA's Gucci who took the helm of Ferragamo last year.

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She plans to boost the visibility of the ready-to-wear clothing collections in stores to create a more immersive experience for customers.

Ferragamo shares rose as much as 1.2 per cent to 18.54 euros in Milan on Monday.

Online Struggles

Ferragamo's silk scarves and Vara pumps have long been staples for corporate women and the country-club set, but the brand has struggled to gain visibility online and win over younger luxury shoppers. It has mostly missed the latest wave of Chinese demand, which has boosted rivals like Gucci and LVMH's Louis Vuitton since 2016.

The shares have fallen 43 per cent since their peak in 2015, but they spiked in October amid speculation that the founding family would be more open to a takeover following the death of matriarch Wanda Ferragamo at the age of 96.

"We have a very loyal customer base that I can't ignore," Andrew said backstage after the show. "I have to keep them engaged while we try to bring in a new generation."

Sales fell 1.8 per cent at constant exchange rates last year as wholesale performance declined, but Ferragamo's Chinese retail sales jumped 7.6 per cent in the final quarter in a potential early sign of a turnaround. The company reports second-half results March 12.

At the show Saturday, Andrew showed classic styles like riding boots, belted overcoats and blazers alongside items aimed at a more fashion-focused set, such as anoraks in bright blue leather and fringed tartan trench coats.

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