MILAN Oct 2 Fashion designer Giorgio Armani is
taking direct control of his sales business in Britain to
improve efficiency in the retail sector, which has become a
revenue-spinner for luxury makers amid economic turmoil.
Armani said in a statement on Tuesday he had agreed to take
control of his UK wholesale and retail business from long-term
retail partner Club 21 after 23 years of cooperation.
The 1.8-billion-euro Armani empire is among top luxury
makers that have moved to manage their businesses internally,
reducing costs in the long term and boosting profitability.
Singapore-based Club 21, which manages brands such as Donna
Karan, Balenciaga, Dolce & Gabbana and Paul Smith, will retain
distribution of the smaller Armani Exchange sporty line.
"It is now time that a global brand like Armani runs its own
interests in a market as significant as this one," the designer
said, ushering in a "new era" for his business in Britain.
Luxottica, the world's biggest maker of designer sunglasses
for brands including Giorgio Armani, is to spend more than 200
million euros over three years to increase production and cut
delivery times to keep up with fast-moving fashion trends.
From Prada to Salvatore Ferragamo, top
luxury makers have invested heavily in the opening of their own
stores, where they have direct control of their sales forces and
brand image. Stores are a cash cow for brands if managed well.
The unlisted Armani empire reported a 13.6 percent rise in
revenues last year, helped by a 45 percent boost in China, the
fastest-growing retail market.
The hands-on designer, who has repeatedly said he has no
intention to sell his business, said last month he aimed to grow
further this year despite concerns about the euro zone crisis.
The Armani group has six clothing lines, including the top
Giorgio Armani collections. It also makes sunglasses, fragrances
(Editing by Leslie Adler)