Versace inks Dubai deal, eyes MidEast sales boost

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Italian fashion house Versace is aiming to increase its sales in the Middle East by 50 percent, part of its goal to nearly double its global revenue and become a billion dollar company within the next five years, its CEO told Arabian Business.

As evidence of the region becoming one of its target markets, the iconic brand has signed an exclusive global licensing agreement with its Dubai partner to expand its jewellery range around the world.

“I think Versace deserves to double its turnover. So for the next five years our target will be to become a one billion dollar company. Not only with our mature markets... Versace is a worldwide historically recognised brand, and we will exploit this opportunity,” said Gian Giacomo Ferraris, who became CEO of Versace in 2009.

Last year, the Italian fashion powerhouse reported revenue of $528.4m and Ferrais said the Middle East, which is its third biggest market - after Europe and the Far East and on a par with sales in the US – is one of its target markets for growth.

“Culturally, we know that a big part of our turnover is related to the Gulf area. Europe is the biggest, with more than 40 percent share. The Far East all together and excluding Japan is also about 40 percent. The USA is ten percent and the Middle East is about ten percent. This is one of the fundamental areas for us. It will reach 15 percent soon,” he said.

Further evidence of Versace’s increased focus on the region is the deal it recently struck with Samra International, a Dubai-based fine jewellery retailer, distributor and manufacturer. As part of the global licencing agreement Samra will produce some of the company’s ranges which will be distributed to a global audience.

“Originally, in 2009, Samra was our retailer and regional distributor. We noticed immediately that there is a good feeling between us as we spoke the same language in terms of our products culture. We started up an atelier (design workshop) with them in Dubai Mall.

“This is where we have our very unique pieces which are very exclusive. In 2013, we signed a worldwide licence, so we trust in their capacity to translate the same energy that we have in the atelier and the total range of our product. We need to have a coherency in quality, in service, in craftsmanship and in everything else,” Ferraris said.

“Due to Samra holding the license rights, we agreed that the first initial start up of our investment will be in the Gulf area. Then we roll out in Russia, China, and throughout,” he added.

The deal comes at a pivotal time for Versace as this year its fine jewellery range celebrates its 20th anniversary.

“Gianni (Versace) was the first designer that entered into this kind of lifestyle culture. The genius of Gianni, who created the brand in 1978, started as couturier. He was a tailor, working with his mother. After his first year of success, he did not just stop at the ready-to-wear business; he entered into the accessory business," Ferraris said.

"Then he created a whole company for watches, perfumes and home collection. So this was the geniality of Gianni and now we are celebrating the 20 year anniversary of the jewellery line,” Ferraris added.

Prior to this appointment at Versace in 2009, Ferraris was CEO of the Jill Sander Group, and the managing director of the ready-to-wear division of Gucci Group, responsible over all the group’s brands: Gucci, YSL, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Bottega Veneta.

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