January 8, 2013 / 6:56 PM / in 5 years

Cruciani's Italian success story is no fad, says founder

* Sees 2013/14 sales at 41 mln euros

* Open to offers from industrial investors

By Antonella Ciancio

MILAN, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Italian textile group Cruciani, the eponymous macrame lace bracelets of which have been worn by celebrities including Paris Hilton and South Korean pop star Psy, expects to increase revenues by a third next year.

The Umbria-based business, also known for its cashmere sweaters, sells the fashionable bracelets for little more than 10 euros ($13), helping it to grow at breakneck speed in defiance of Italy’s prolonged recession.

“They’re cute, funny and cool, but they are affordable and made in Italy,” Cruciani founder Luca Caprai said on Tuesday of the quirky wristwear the company began selling in 2011.

Caprai said he expects the privately-owned business to achieve sales of 30 million euros ($39.2 million) in its 2012/13 financial year, rising to 41 million euros in 2013/14. Revenue was 19.4 million euros in 2011/12.

Since launching a limited collection of the “Cruciani C” bracelets in the upmarket Tuscan resort of Forte dei Marmi in summer 2011, Cruciani has sold more than eight million pieces worldwide and opened stores in Italy, Spain, Dubai, Seoul and Beirut.

The company’s phenomenal growth is not based merely on a fashion fad, Caprai says, adding that he will continue to invest in new products, including handbags.

Cruciani has also launched four-leaf clover bracelets in partnership with Italian jeweller Damiani.

“In a specialised world where finance is elsewhere, ideas are our capital and our way to survive,” Caprai said.

Big luxury goods makers such as Ferragamo, LVMH and Prada have shrugged off concerns about the economic downturn thanks to their global exposure to wealthy shoppers from Asia and Russia.

But small Italian manufacturers have suffered from tighter credit and falling sales in their home market.

Sales of fashion clothes and accessories in Italy are expected to finish down 4.4 percent in 2012, according to the country’s textile body Sistema Moda Italia.

Cruciani has bucked the trend and Caprai said he has increased his workforce by 100 to 520 people over the past 18 months.

The businessman is continuing a family tradition. His father Arnaldo started working as a linen salesman at 22 before setting up his own textile factory in 1955. That business has been crafting embroidered bed sheets and linen tablecloths ever since.

Caprai’s Cruciani, meanwhile, aims to triple revenue over the next three years with expansion in foreign markets such as South Korea.

He would consider taking on an industrial partner if the right opportunity materialised but says he is not interested in purely financial investors.

“I am not looking for a billionaire full of money,” he said, adding that a number of investors had already come knocking at his door.

Editing by David Goodman

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