Sergio Rossi focuses on development
After intensive work on its repositioning, Sergio Rossi is undergoing a new phase in its development. At the end of February, the brand announced the departure of its creative director, Francesco Russo - who had been at the company since 2008 – marking the end of an era. The luxury Italian shoe brand, which was founded in 1966, was bought by the Gucci group in 2000. After the departure of its founder in 2005, the Sergio Rossi went through a transitional phase until Christophe Mélard came to the company head in 2009
With the support of Francesco Russo, the new CEO redefined the core values of the brand in an effort to make it ‘more desirable and consistent’. “Sergio Rossi was a ‘sleeping beauty’ who had yet to really work on establishing its identity. Now, we are focused on the brand’s heritage in Italy and its footwear expertise,” explains Christophe Mélard, who was previously finance director at YSL Beauty.
“Francesco contributed to the operation to help Sergio Rossi become not just a brand name, but ‘the gem of Italian footwear’, combining artisanal savoir-faire with a dangerously sensual image. Once we had achieved that, it became clear to us that it was the right time to part ways,” continued the CEO.
In a market saturated with luxury shoes veterans like Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik, Sergio Rossi is now looking to push on full steam ahead with development. With this in mind, the brand has reinforced the role of Susanna Nicoletti.
After arriving at the company in July 2012 as director of marketing and communication, Susanna Nicoletti – who has worked at Ferragamo, Fendi and Prada – was recently promoted to chief marketing officer. In this new position, she will continue to head up communication, marketing and PR, whilst overseeing online activity and brand image at the Sergio Rossi stores and concessions.
Working alongside Susanna Nicoletti is Angelo Ruggeri, recently named director of design and collections. Footwear specialist Ruggeri, who worked in the Sergio Rossi studio from 2006 to 2011, will report directly to Nicoletti. He has also worked for Armani and Tom Ford.
“The evolution that has taken place in the company will allow us to push brand image with consistency. Our objective is not to quickly expand our retail network, but to focus intently in developing our offering and customer service. We want to move forward in a controlled and balanced manner,” states Mélard. Without giving precise figures, the CEO tells us that there has been ‘a strong increase in sales in 2012’, with 15% of sales being made in Italy and 10% from menswear.
Sergio Rossi has 54 stores across the world as well as around 30 franchises, many of which have been renovated to align with the brand’s ‘Italian boudoir’ concept. In China, the brand has 11 points of sale and recently bought back some of its franchised stores. This past Sunday, Sergio Rossi celebrated the opening of its new boutique in Harbour City, Hong Kong. The store has been open for one month and is the brand’s number one store.
Japan remains a historic market for Sergio Rossi, providing the brand with 20% of its sales. The company is also growing in Russia and the Middle East and is looking to re-launch into the United States, having bought back its store in Miami and opened a concession in Las Vegas.
Numerous other openings are on the calendar for this year: Moscow, Baku (Azerbaijan), Almaty (Kazakhstan), Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Sergio Rossi will also be reopening its Beijing store, as well is its new-and-improved Florence store. The Milan store on via Montenapoleone has also been recently renovated.
The brand’s wholesale activity is mainly focused in Europe and is currently in its rationalization phase. As time goes on, Sergio Rossi collections are becoming more and more refined and focus is being made on creating a larger range of shoes hand-crafted in its Italian ateliers of San Mauro Pascolo.
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