How Bruno Magli Plans To Conquer Asia

Lucy Liu Bruno Magli
Lucy Liu.
REX/Shutterstock.

Bruno Magli is planting flags in Asia.

The Italian luxury firm has inked new partnerships with Sitoy Retailing Ltd. in China and with Bruno Magli Partners Co. Ltd. in Japan.

The agreements will allow Bruno Magli to develop its business in China and Japan. In addition to wholesale distribution, Sitoy Retailing Ltd. will open the first Bruno Magli shop-in-shop in the SOGO department store at Causeway Bay in Hong Kong in August. Also, at least 15 mono-branded stores are scheduled to open throughout China. In September, Bruno Magli Partners Co. Ltd. will launch an e-store in Japan, historically a solid market for Bruno Magli. Brick-and-mortar stores are slated for 2017 and beyond.

“This is an incredible time for Bruno Magli,” said Cory M. Baker, chief operating officer of Bruno Magli parent company Marquee Brand. “As we celebrate the brand’s 80th anniversary, our expansion into China and Japan with these strategic partners will help solidify our global growth with an already loyal customer base.”

Andrew Yeung, executive director and head of retailing at Sitoy Group, underscored the brand’s “classic Italian heritage” and “reputation for unique design and quality craftsmanship.” The partnership, he said, will offer “style-conscious consumers an undeniable choice in quality.”

“With 55 years in Japan, Bruno Magli has built a brand synonymous with classic styling, quality craftsmanship, and exceptional comfort,” noted Kyle Nakamura, president at Bruno Magli Partners Co. Ltd. Nakamura said that, “as investors,” the partners were ” confident that Bruno Magli will continue to grow as a leading lifestyle brand in the Japanese market.”

The brand is already present in South Korea.

bruno magli siro santo contest Bruno Magli’s Siro high-top (left) and Santo sneakers. Courtesy

For fall, the company will relaunch its women’s footwear line after a three-year hiatus,  with actress Lucy Liu as the category’s brand ambassador. It will also unveil a global ad campaign. For the holiday season, Magli will also launch new categories ranging from men’s tailoring, men’s bags and small leather goods to men’s hosiery, women’s handbags, and men’s and women’s timepieces.

In January 2015, Baker and partner Michael DeVirgilio, president of Marquee Brand, which is an acquisition, licensing and development company sponsored by Neuberger Berman Private Equity and founded in 2014, acquired the Bruno Magli brand and related intellectual property assets from Bruno Magli SpA. This marked Marquee’s first acquisition; it has since taken on Ben Sherman.

The purchase followed nearly two decades of uncertainty for Bruno Magli. During that time, the company — founded in 1936 by siblings Marino, Maria and Bruno Magli — underwent an extended game of musical chairs with owners. In 2001,  Luxembourg-based investment fund Opera acquired a controlling interest from the family; in 2007, it was sold to U.K.-based private equity fund Fortelus Capital, and in 2014, it was acquired by Da Vinci Invest AG, a Swiss fund. Around April 2004, the brand’s U.S. unit filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, from which it exited in January 2005.