Two years after the arrival of Riccardo Sciutto as CEO of Sergio Rossi, the Italian footwear company is halfway through the restructuring of its retail network, which includes 44 stores. The latest addition is a flagship in Rome’s luxury shopping street Via Condotti, which will be officially unveiled on March 20.
“It was fundamental for Sergio Rossi to be present with a store in Rome, and we arrive through the main door in Via Condotti,” said Sciutto in a phone interview from Hong Kong. A former boutique near the Spanish Steps in the Italian capital was closed three years ago by former owner Kering.
“This is such a prestigious venue, and it’s a sign of confidence in the city, beyond the current [political and economical] troubles,” said Sciutto, adding that the company is relying on a local base of customers, and not only on tourists.
Gucci Group, which has since been folded into Kering, bought a majority stake in Sergio Rossi in 1999 during an aggressive acquisition drive masterminded by Domenico De Sole and Tom Ford. The group eventually took full control of the company in 2004. European investment house Investindustrial acquired Sergio Rossi from Kering in December 2015. Investindustrial was founded by Italian financier Andrea C. Bonomi and has stakes in Aston Martin, B&B Italia and luxury lighting firm Flos, among others.
Sciutto was in Hong Kong traveling from Shanghai and was upbeat about business in Asia. “The brand is performing really very well here — it’s showing an incredible and surprising double-digit growth,” observed the executive, who joined Sergio Rossi from Hogan.
Including Japan, Asia accounts for 50 percent of sales. The SR1 collection, the first to be unveiled by Investindustrial in 2016, has grown to represent 80 percent of the brand’s business and Asia, said Sciutto, who has been particularly receptive to the changes. “Asia’s customers are more dynamic; they are fast, they understood us [and SR1] in a second.”
Following the exit of design director Angelo Ruggeri in May 2016, the brand’s collections have been designed by an in-house team.
Sciutto said the company recently renovated its store in Hong Kong’s Harbour City and its units in Shanghai, and opened two stores in Bejing last year. In May, it will open a banner in Xi’an at the new SKP mall.
Sciutto revealed he had just inked a deal to open a unit at The Dubai Mall in the United Arab Emirates. The store is expected to open this summer.
Retail accounts for 70 percent of revenues. In 2017, sales totaled 60 million euros ($74 million). The figure is in line with the previous year, said Sciutto, despite the investments in restructuring, relocating and opening the brand’s stores, and closing the menswear division. While not disclosing figures, Sciutto was particularly pleased about the improvement in margins and profitability.
“This is fundamental to grow in 2018. We have an industrial base, and [Investindustrial] is very happy,” he said. Of the 44 directly operated stores, Sciutto has overseen the remodeling of half, and the rest will be completed this year.
While many of Sergio Rossi’s peers have seen declines at wholesale, especially in Italy, the company has seen this channel grow more than 20 percent, said Sciutto — even in its home country. The running sneaker is sold out at wholesale, he noted.
While things are progressing more slowly in the U.S., the market is No. 1 online for Sergio Rossi. “I know there are opportunities in the U.S. for this reason, and we are looking for partnerships for concessions. We are also eyeing opening a store in New York in the next 12 months,” he said.
The Rome store covers 864 square feet and is marked by an arched ceiling and a recovered historical floor, integrated in the more contemporary design of the interiors by Cristina Celestino. The store concept was conceived by architect Marco Costanzi, who hails from the Romagna region, also the home of Sergio Rossi, headquartered in San Mauro Pascoli.
“I like the idea of having a men’s and women’s point of view,” said Sciutto.
The sophisticated store reflects the luxury positioning of the brand, with pink marble walls, Nabuk frames on mirrors and metal elements galvanized in pink gold. The palette goes from nude to chalk, with touches of amaranth, pine and pale green. References to the brand, such as the storied Opanca sandal or the foot of the seats reminiscent of the SR1 heel, pepper the store.
On March 22, the company will hold a cocktail party to present the newly refurbished store in Milan’s Via Montenapoleone.
In September, Sergio Rossi unveiled its revamped flagship in Paris on Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré.