* Leather group closed 2013 in line with expectations - CEO
* Shoe sales unaffected by Chinese gift crackdown - CEO
* Menswear catwalk show inspired by Italian lifestyle
MILAN, Jan 12 Travelling Chinese shoppers
snapping up leather goods will drive sales growth in 2014 at
luxury group Salvatore Ferragamo, its chief executive
said on Sunday, before it showed a menswear collection aimed at
promoting its Italian heritage.
Michele Norsa said the group had closed 2013 in line with
its expectations, but that it was important to wait until
Chinese New Year in January to make forecasts for the year.
"Travelling keeps being a strong driver of growth," Norsa
told reporters before the show at Milan men's fashion week,
singling out Chinese tourists to Europe and the United States.
Chinese luxury consumers, who make up for almost one third
of the market, are increasingly shopping abroad, partly thanks
to simpler visa procedures in the United States and some
European countries, according to consultancy Bain & Co.
A crackdown on giving luxury goods as gifts to win the
favour of public officials in China has not affected Ferragamo's
core business, Norsa said.
"Shoes are our core category and in fact a shoe is not a
gift, shoes are something you buy for yourself," Norsa said.
The group founded as a women's footwear maker in Florence in
1927 reported net profit up 61 per cent in the first nine months
Sunday's menswear show featured cashmere coats in blocks of
beige, brown and blue, dark pinstriped suits and bomber jackets
with patterned knitted sleeves.
Creative director Massimiliano Giornetti told Reuters before
the catwalk show the collection had been inspired by the idea of
home comforts such as furnishings and Italian food.
"The consumer of Ferragamo really loves the idea of a kind
of Italian lifestyle...enjoying life," Giornetti said.
Attracting cash-rich tourists is especially important in
Italy, where timid signs of economic recovery should also have a
positive impact on consumption in 2014, Norsa said.
"We need to attract tourists and not only Chinese, of
course, I'm thinking about the Russians, the Middle
Easterns...the biggest potential is partially unexploited."
Norsa said he hoped the World Expo, a five-yearly
international fair which will be held in Milan next year, could
help boost Ferragamo's sales in Italy.
"In the second part of the year (2014) we could have Expo
Milano generating business traffic," he said.
(Reporting by Isla Binnie, editing by William Hardy)