A month after taking the reins as interim CEO of the Salvatore Ferragamo Group, chairman Ferruccio Ferragamo spoke on Tuesday about the efforts made to commit to corporate social responsibility as the company issued its second annual Sustainability Report. At the same time, a company spokeswoman addressed market speculation that Gucci veteran Micaela Le Divelec could be headed to helm the luxury group.
Sources in Milan say Ferragamo is eyeing Le Divelec, who exited Gucci in March, to succeed Eraldo Poletto as CEO. A market source wondered why Ferragamo, which is headquartered in Florence, Italy, as is Gucci, has not started an official search to recruit a new CEO. “Possibly because the choice has already been made, and Le Divelec may be sitting out her noncompete agreement,” the person speculated.
Another source pointed to Le Divelec’s experience and hardworking attitude as “an asset” for a company such as Ferragamo and whose personality could fit with the expansive family.
“We have not yet given a mandate to seek a CEO because the company is concentrated on working on its organizational structure,” the Ferragamo spokeswoman told WWD. This was in sync with another source, who was less convinced about Le Divelec joining the company in an official position, believing Ferruccio Ferragamo is focusing on the front management line first.
Le Divelec joined Gucci in 1998 and rose through the ranks to the role of executive vice president and chief corporate operations officer in September 2010. When she parted ways with Gucci, she held the role of executive vice president and chief consumer officer. Le Divelec, who hails from Florence, did double duty for Gucci when in 2014 she was also appointed CEO of Richard Ginori, tasked with the relaunch of the brand. Gucci took control of the historic Italian tableware and ceramics firm, based outside Florence, in 2013. Then little-known Alessandro Michele, who had joined Gucci’s design team in 2002, was concurrently appointed Ginori’s creative director.
The Ferragamo board’s approval on March 8 of the 2017 balance sheet marked Eraldo Poletto’s last day at the helm of the company he joined in August 2016 from Furla, and the appointment of Ferruccio Ferragamo as interim CEO. On the occasion, Ferruccio Ferragamo said his family has no intention of selling the company and the plan is to continue to appoint a person from outside the family to be its CEO. Michele Norsa led the company, including through its public listing in 2001, for a decade before Poletto.
As for his interim role, Ferragamo said he hoped it would be “as short as possible, but without rushing to find a new CEO,” noting he did not know whether the new executive would come from within the company or outside.
On Tuesday, Ferragamo said that last year, the company intensified its commitment “with a three-year sustainability plan that sets specific targets and with a sustainability policy that establishes rules of conduct to spread a socially responsible company culture. Ensuring transparency with stakeholders, we aim to share not only the milestones that we have achieved but the challenges that lie ahead and our future goals as well.”
Prepared in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals promoted by the United Nations to minimize environmental impacts, the group’s sustainability plan sets six main targets over three years. The macro areas the company is focusing on are: people, made in Italy, products and relationships with suppliers, territory and culture, and environment.
“Thanks to our people and their positivity, the group has embraced sustainability as a value and made it a vital factor in our development strategies,” observed Ferragamo. “Our people are the very essence of our brand, and this is why we are committed to celebrating their professionalism and individuality, offering them opportunities for growth, well-being and respect.”
Last year, the company earned the OHSAS 18001 certification for all its production sites and stores in Italy, and plans to extend the scope of this certification in the next years.
“We firmly believe in our local community, synonymous with history and culture and in the talent of young Italians, who are capable of resolving today’s problems and updating Italy’s creative legacy,” added Ferragamo, who is the son of the company’s late founder. “It is in Ferragamo’s DNA to both preserve the past of Italian tradition and cultivate its future, and we have sustained this legacy by financing, on one hand, restorations of important works of art, like Neptune’s Fountain in Piazza della Signoria, Florence, and promoting, on the other, experimentation with sustainable materials, while remaining steadfast in our commitment to made-in-Italy products and our respect for the innovative spirit of Salvatore Ferragamo’s founder.”
Environmental protection is another key priority and one of the group’s CSR targets, channeling investments last year in projects to reduce consumption and obtain important environmental certification for its facilities in order to minimize the environmental impact of its operations. These investments include the new logistics hub under construction near Osmannoro, just outside Florence, designed up to standards of efficiency so high that it will be LEED Platinum-certified, and the new design and prototyping Modelleria for men’s and women’s leather goods, which opened last November and which is located in a building that has been extensively renovated to reduce energy consumption and emissions, optimize energy absorption and use energy from renewable sources, with the installation of a new solar power system.
Ferragamo also committed to certifying retail operations last year. In October, the brand’s historic Canton Road store in Hong Kong received LEED Gold certification, followed by the Troy store in Michigan, with LEED Silver certification.
In November, the group joined the Alleanza per l’Economia Circolare, an Italian alliance promoting a circular economy. By investing in quality, Ferragamo believes in reducing waste, as the products are meant to last longer.
“My father used to say that there is always something more beautiful and more perfect to create,” concluded Ferragamo. “More than an affirmation, this is a call to action to strive for continuous improvement and raise the bar ever higher, to promote a responsible business every day, based on respect for people, the territory, the environment and the community.”