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Leonardo Ferragamo: Angels Need to Wear His Crimson Sneakers

In Italy, the family is each- thing. Lots of the nation’s greatest companies are still owned and run by dynasties, and the distinction between the boardroom table and the kitchen desk is usually blurred. So when Leonardo Ferragamo, son of the late Salvatore Ferragamo who based the eponymous luxurious goods empire, says “the household is the model”, you know he means it.

Unlike “Model Beckham”, assiduously cultivated by the footballer David and his celeb spouse, Victoria, this is no Johnny-come-these days advertising wheeze. Salvatore Ferragamo started one of many world’s grandest luxury items companies when he opened his first shoe shop in Florence in 1927. One in all his most celebrated pairs of sneakers had been the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland within the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. He was additionally accountable for the metal-strengthened stiletto heels made famous by Marilyn Monroe.

By the 1950s, Salvatore Ferragamo was the shoe of alternative for stars comparable to Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren and Greta Garbo. All through, he insisted that each one the corporate’s merchandise ought to solely be made in Italy to make sure quality was not compromised.

Leonardo, who has labored in the corporate all his life, says of his father: “He was a genius, a special particular person. However I never obtained to know him properly as I used to be seven when he died.”

When Salvatore handed away aged 62 in 1960, his wife, Wanda, took over the operating of the enterprise. With the help of her six youngsters, it has since expanded into a world concern, also selling luxury equipment corresponding to designer glasses, perfume, belts and scarves. Production has grown from 6,500 pairs of footwear a yr when Salvatore died to around 10,000 a day now. In 2005 the corporate made a profit of nearly $50m (£25m) on sales of $718m. Asia now represents half its revenues.

Leonardo learnt the artwork of shoemaking within the family enterprise and went on to head the menswear division in addition to spearheading the drive into Asia. He can also be responsible for the household’s property investments and is the chairman of the yachting group Nautor, extra of which later.

But Salvatore Ferragamo is ready to change. Final 12 months, for the first time in its eighty-12 months history, someone from exterior the family was introduced in to run the enterprise. Michele Norsa, formerly the chief executive of the rival Italian group Valentino, replaced Wanda, now aged eighty five, who has grow to be chairman as she cuts down her workload and prepares to go on the reins.

And in September, the corporate announced its intention to float on the stock market, although the household will retain a majority 52 per cent shareholding.

The appointment of Mr Norsa, it’s hoped, will head off the infighting that has befallen other great household-run Italian companies, akin to Gucci and Pucci, when their patriarchs died and management passed to their children.

“We are a large family – there are sixty five kids and grandchildren. It could be laborious to choose a new boss,” says Leonardo, who is reported to have been responsible for placing ahead the flotation plans to the family. “We have to modernise the company and get it ready for the following technology.”

In interviews, Wanda has always strongly rejected the possibility of selling the enterprise, saying recently she was “nearly offended” by the thought. However she has conceded that her kids, between whom ownership of the company is divided, could feel differently. By going public, the second era of Ferragamos will have the ability to sell their shares in the event that they wish.

It is hard to inform whether Leonardo has discovered it tough having an outsider working the family business. “It is part of the transition,” he comments. “We share the same values.”

He additionally insists that having to answer to outdoors shareholders will not be an issue. “They can be demanding. However that may be a great thing.”

Leonardo says that regardless of the flotation plans, Salvatore Ferragamo will stay true to its rules and the household will nonetheless be heavily concerned even after it lists in round two years’ time.

The dynasty is one in all the shoes salvatore ferragamo replica corporate’s greatest property, he says. “A company owned by the household can transfer a level of safety and integrity. It provides a assure of continuity. We don’t simply depend on one man who comes and goes. The household is the brand.”

Central to the Salvatore Ferragamo model is the “Made in Italy” stamp found on its merchandise, denoting prime quality and good workmanship. For example, the corporate’s formal Tramezza shoes are hand-made in a manufacturing facility close to Florence by half a dozen workers. Nevertheless, production prices are a lot greater than these of its opponents, lots of which have shifted operations Salvatore_Po to Asia. Leonardo’s brother, Ferrucio, as soon as complained in an interview that some of the corporate’s employees labored fewer than eight hours every day and have been “spoiled”. They needed, he hinted, to adapt to the global economic system.

Leonardo does not promise that all the company’s goods will likely be made in Italy indefinitely: “We now have to maintain our eyes open. Issues change on this planet. There are different opportunities around the globe. We’ve an open perspective to it.”

Apart from shoes, Leonardo’s great love is sailing, a ardour he has been able to take pleasure in some style. In 1998, he bought Nautor, which makes the well-known Swan yachts, having sailed its boats for years as an enthusiast. In his Italian lilt, he recounts the “stunning story” of how he first came to be involved with the company, which has established such racing events because the Swan Regatta and the Swan Cup, and in addition scooped the trophy in 1973 for the primary Whitbread Spherical the World Race.

“I went to visit the factory. A new world opened as much as me,” he recalls. “I was amazed at the standard and reliability of each worker, especially the delight they have been shoes salvatore ferragamo replica taking to make it special.”

Leonardo appreciates good craftsmanship, whether in a shoe or a ship. Like Salvatore Ferragamo, Nautor focuses on quality not quantity, making just forty yachts a year, which range in worth from €400,000 (£250,000) to several million. “[Footwear and boats] are each types of transportation,” he adds with out a trace of irony, warming to his theme. “The Swan yacht is about branding and quality. Sneakers aren’t just about aesthetics however what’s inside them. It’s all in regards to the id of the product.”

Born 23 July 1953.

Training College of Imede, Lausanne, Switzerland – enterprise administration diploma; Columbia University, New York – administration and finance diploma.

Profession at Salvatore Ferragamo
1973-75: assistant to director, leather-based division.

1975-80: director, men’s sneakers division.
1980-87: director, males’s division.

1987-ninety four: commercial director, Europe/Asia.
1994-2000: chief govt, Europe/South America/Asia.

2000 to now: chief government of the holding firm.
Different Interests


Bought Nautor in 1998, turning into chairman. Also chairman of the board at Camper & Nicholsons, the English yachting enterprise purchased by Nautor in 2001.

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