Prada Group Sets Management Succession Plan

MILAN – Prada has set in motion its succession plan, putting an end to growing speculation about the management and design handover at the Italian luxury company.

On Tuesday, at the end of trading in Hong Kong, where the Prada group has been publicly listed since 2011, the company said that former LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton senior adviser Andrea Guerra will be “recommended” as CEO at the next board meeting on Jan. 26.

At the annual shareholders meeting for the approval of the 2022 financial statements, Patrizio Bertelli, who shares the CEO with his wife Miuccia Prada, will be recommended as chairman and current chairman Paolo Zannoni will be suggested as executive deputy chairman of the board of directors of Prada S.p.A. and, at the same time, chairman of Prada Holding S.p.A.

Miuccia Prada is confirmed as creative director of Miu Miu and Prada, the latter together with Raf Simons, and board member.

In a statement, Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli said: “This is a fundamental step we have decided to undertake, while completely engaged in the company, to contribute more to the evolution of the Prada Group and to ease the succession of Lorenzo Bertelli, the future leader of the group. We thank Andrea Guerra for being willing to take the job, with the aim of achieving a steady and sustainable growth. Andrea Guerra, with his long professional experience, has shown entrepreneurial skills in businesses where the founders are present and engaged, blending their culture and the needs of a company continuously evolving and active on international markets”.

This confirms a WWD report last week. Guerra is understood to be tasked with flanking Lorenzo Bertelli ahead of his increased future responsibilities helming the company.

A possible retirement of Patrizio Bertelli, who is 76, has been in the news for a while, further fueled by the executive during Prada’s first Capital Markets Day in November 2021, as he pointed to a potential generational shift in three years.

Patrizio Bertelli’s choice is not a surprise as his son has increased his responsibilities and been a driver of change since joining the company in 2017. He was named group marketing director in 2019 and, additionally, head of corporate social responsibility in 2020. In May 2021, he joined as a director of the board.

Guerra was conscripted in early 2020 as CEO of the newly created LVMH Hospitality Excellence division, but last May he became a strategic and development senior adviser to the group.

He is a former CEO of eyewear group Luxottica, which he left in September 2014 after 10 years working with the founder, the late Leonardo Del Vecchio. He was instrumental in the growth of the company, which became a world leader in its sector through innovation and acquisitions, including the purchase of U.S. sports eyewear firm Oakley in 2007.

After Luxottica, Guerra became a onetime strategic adviser to former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and then joined Italian high-end food emporium Eataly as executive chairman in 2015.

At LVMH, he took over an entity that encompasses Hôtels Cheval Blanc and the Belmond Hotels & Luxury Trains and also became a member of the luxury conglomerate’s executive committee. Ultimately, his purview was widened to include oversight of the Fendi and Loro Piana businesses, as well as Thélios, the Italian eyewear firm that LVMH took full control of last year.

A graduate of the University of Rome, Guerra started his career in 1989 with hotel group Marriott International. He has also worked in a variety of executive roles at Merloni Elettrodomestici, an Italian maker of household appliances now known as Indesit Co.

The relationship between Patrizio Bertelli and Guerra is a longstanding one, as Luxottica started producing the Prada and Miu Miu eyewear collections in 2003. Also, Luxottica veteran executive Massimo Vian joined Prada as chief of industrial production two years ago.

Last month, Belgian designer Raf Simons, who has been co-creative director with Miuccia Prada of the company’s signature line since February 2020, said he was shuttering his namesake fashion collection after 27 years, leading to speculation about an increased commitment at Prada.

The spring 2023 show staged during Frieze London last month was the designer’s last collection for his own brand.

The Miuccia-Raf collaboration has helped boost the group’s bottom and top lines. As reported in March, Prada returned to profitability in 2021 after a strong second half, driven by increased sales of handbags, footwear and ready-to-wear, which saw a 53% jump in revenues compared with 2020 and a 16% increase on 2019.

In the first half of fiscal 2022, the group smashed projections.

Retail sales, which account for 90% of group revenue, rose 26% to 1.7 billion euros, while overall revenue for the period was up 22% to 1.9 billion euros.

The gains came from double-digit increases at all the group’s brands, and all the main product categories and geographic regions.

Net income nearly doubled to 188 million euros.

Commenting the first half figures, Patrizio Bertelli said in July the double-digit rise in ready-to-wear sales was a result of the Prada brand “going back to its roots.”

To be sure, for fall, the codesigners put a fresh spin on the brand’s DNA for the streetwear-loving set.

They worked with classic crewneck and geo-pattern knits; finely tuned tailoring; ladylike full skirts; sheer innerwear, and lots of jeweled embellishment.

It was heritage Prada rebooted for a socially savvy generation. In the first half, Prada brand sales were up 28%; Miu Miu, 14%, and Church’s, 29%.

This story was reported by WWD and originally appeared on WWD.com.

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