Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A. has been synonymous with Italian luxury for more than three-quarters of a century. The Florence-based, family-owned company continues to produce the shoes that once earned it the nickname "Shoemaker to the Stars," but also designs, produces, and distributes a full range of men's and women's clothing and accessories. In addition, Ferragamo sells its own branded perfume lines, and, in a partnership with another Italian company, Luxottica, a range of Ferragamo-branded eyeglasses.
Women's and men's footwear represent more than 42 percent of the group's sales of nearly EUR 600 million. Ferragamo's sales are made through a global network of retailers, including most of the world's major department stores, and through the company's own network of nearly 450 retail Ferragamo stores, approximately half of which are directly owned by Ferragamo. The Asian region, especially Japan, accounts for the largest share of the company's sales at 45 percent. North America adds 31 percent to sales, while Europe accounts for 23 percent. Ferragamo also owns French design group Ungaro. Founded by Salvatore Ferragamo, the company remains headed by his widow, Wanda, and their children. Eldest son Ferruccio acts as CEO of the company, which remains 100 percent owned by the Ferragamo family.
The company was founded in 1927 by Salvatore Ferragamo, who fashioned shoes for wealthy and powerful clients in Florence, Italy. In 1929 Ferragamo opened a workshop in the Via Mannelli, concentrating his efforts in experimenting with design, applying for patents for ornamental and utility models and some related inventions. Forced to file for bankruptcy in 1933 due to bad management and economic pressures, Ferragamo nonetheless expanded his operation during the 1950 to a workforce of around 700 expert artisans that produced 350 pairs of hand-made shoes a day.
The company is run by Ferragamo's wife Wanda and their six children (Fiamma, Giovanna, Fulvia, Ferruccio, Massimo and Leonardo).
Within a year after her father's death, Fiamma Ferragamo had already debuted her first collection, in London, to great acclaim.
Over the following decades, Ferragamo modernized its production methods, adding mechanized and automated production lines in order to meet the growing demand for its branded products.
Ferragamo also adapted to the rapidly changing luxury goods sector. The proliferation of designer lines in the late 1970s shifted the focus of the luxury footwear sector from a small, elite group of buyers to a larger, although still upscale consumer market. Ferragamo responded by diversifying beyond footwear. After introducing an assortment of leather goods, including luggage, the company launched its own line of knitwear in the 1980s.
In 1980, Ferragamo added its first ready-to-wear clothing collection to complement its footwear, accessories, and knitwear, enabling the company to promote its "total look." The company, which relied on in-store boutiques in the world's department stores, also aimed to extend its vertical integration into the retail channel. During the 1980s, the company began opening its own stores, and by 1990 operated 18 stores in Italy, Zurich, and London. In the United States, Ferragamo had stores in New York and Palm Beach.
Ferragamo's confidence allowed it to continue building up its retail network through the 1990s. By 2003, the company boasted more than 200 stores under its direct control and over 250 franchise operations in Asian markets. The company also rolled out its own outlet store format during the decade. By 1993, the company's sales had grown to more than $200 million worldwide.
In the late 1990s, Ferragamo departed from its tradition of controlling its production. In 1998, the company signed a licensing deal with dominant Italian eyeglass manufacturer Luxottica to release a Ferragamo-branded line of eyeglass frames. The following year, the group debuted its own Ferragamo-branded perfume, Ferragamo pour Femme, produced under license by Bulgari SpA. The company also released a men's fragrance.
Two years later, however, Ferragamo ended the production license and instead brought its fragrance and beauty products operations in-house under subsidiary Ferragamo Parfums SA. Development began on a new line of fragrance and bath and beauty products which debuted in October 2003 under the name Incanta. In the meantime, Ferragamo continued its expansion, opening new flagship stores in New York and Tokyo in 2003. Even as it pursued its drive to become a leader in the global luxury fashion sector, Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A. remained committed to the tradition of quality and innovation initiated by its founder more than 75 years before.
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