Bally CEO to Tout Swiss Heritage

LONDON — Berndt Hauptkorn is ready for a new challenge.

The newly appointed Bally CEO — who oversaw parent company Labelux’s purchase of the Swiss brand in April 2008 — said he is eager to continue building the label in the luxe market.

“The Labelux [CEO] job, where I acquired four companies, [Solange Azagury-Partridge, Derek Lam, Zagliani and Bally], was definitely an exciting time of my career,” he recalled. “However, other companies such as Solange Azagury-Partridge are businesses that are still in relative startup mode, while Bally was the biggest investment and is the largest company in the portfolio and it is where I can add greatest value.”

Hauptkorn is filling the vacant spot left by CEO Marco Franchini, who departed in the spring.

As he begins his new role, the executive told Footwear News that he plans to play up the 158-year-old brand’s heritage.

“Swiss values can be leveraged to create a solid positioning in this marketplace,” Hauptkorn said. “The brand balances different elements and profiles, with [Creative Director] Brian Atwood adding excitement to each of the products. But excitement also needs to come from classic products, which are user-friendly and functional.”

Hauptkorn’s strategy is typical of luxury brands in this challenging economic climate, explained Ilaria Alber-Staetten, CEO of Provenance, a London-based luxury brand consultancy. “As a general rule there has been a move back to core values, heritage and provenance, as brands return to their own individual stories in a bid to differentiate themselves,” she said.

With Europe accounting for 40 percent of net sales and Asia making up 38 percent, these are the areas where Hauptkorn will concentrate his efforts in 2010. He said he plans to optimize Bally’s position in Switzerland, German-speaking markets and Asia, and will relocate flagships in certain cities, such as Vienna and Rome. “We will … put our money where the image is built,” Hauptkorn said.

In the U.S., Paulette Garafalo, who was recently appointed CEO of Bally Americas, which accounts for 10 percent of Bally net sales, will report directly to the CEO. “Paulette will be great in the States, and we see potential in growing our department store business there,” Hauptkorn said.

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