Designer Gianni Versace lives on in every clingy chiffon gown or slinky pantsuit sent down the catwalk by his namesake empire. The company has built a business designing, making, and licensing apparel, accessories, and other items. (Sister Donatella is creative director.) Its wares are sold in more than 200 company-owned boutiques and some 1,000 other shops in 60 countries worldwide. The firm also operates luxury hotels and residences with Sunland Group. Founder Gianni Versace, who unveiled his first fashion collection in 1978, was murdered in 1997. Versace's sister, brother, and niece own the Italian fashion house, with Allegra Versace owning a 50% stake in the company
Sister Donatella (Allegra's mother) and brother Santo own 20% and 30% of the company, respectively.
The global financial crisis, which has sharply reduced demand for the Italian fashion house's apparel and accessories, and the bankruptcy of Ittierre, which licenses Versace jeans, have created financial problems for the company. In a bid to return to profitability by 2011, Versace's new CEO, Gian Giacomo Ferraris, in early 2010 signed an agreement with unions on job cuts in Italy and launched a lower-priced women's wear collection. The new collection, which is under the creative direction of Donatella and priced at about $550 to $1,400, is the women's ready-to-wear counterpart to Versace's lower-priced men's line and is also labeled Versace Collection. Overall, Ferraris, intends to cut about 25% of Versace's global workforce (about 350 jobs), amid a restructuring of the company's production and retail operations.
Ferraris was tapped to lead Versace in June 2009 following the departure of Giancarlo Di Risio, who was recruited by the family in 2004 to lead the company. Ferraris brings more than 20 years' experience in the luxury industry to his new role. He was previously CEO of Jil Sander and managing director of Gucci.
In a sign of how the market for luxury goods in Japan has contracted, Versace closed the last of its boutiques there in fall 2009. Instead, Versace has been concentrating on China (opening shops that it owns directly) and securing other deals globally. The company eventually will invest more than $12 million to maintain a presence in China, where it operates more than a dozen shops. The company also opened a shop in Rome in late 2007 that's dedicated exclusively to the sale of jewelry and watches.
It's also rolling out 14 Palazzo Versace resorts within the next 15 to 30 years through a partnership inked in late 2006 with Australian developer Sunland Group. The pair joined in 1999 to open the Gold Coast resort in Queensland, Australia, and Palazzo Versace in Dubai, which is slated to open by the end of 2010. Sunland is funding each resort, which is estimated at nearly $765 million to build. As part of the deal, Versace earns royalties and money generated from the sale of its home collection, which will furnish the hotel. – less