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Italy's handbag maker Furla spurns suitors to stay solo

FILE PHOTO: Bags are shown at a display window of a shop of Italian leather goods company Furla in Zurich, Switzerland April 5, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian handbag maker Furla plans to stay solo and carry on as a family-run business despite Italian and foreign bidders knocking on its door, its chairwoman and top shareholder told Reuters on Friday.

The Furlanetto family, who founded the label almost a century ago and still has full ownership, managed to double revenues at Furla in the last four years to reach 513 million euros in 2018, with a 5.2 percent increase at constant exchange rates.

“We are heavily courted and that is undoubtedly gratifying: they are important names, they offered us a lot of money. But right now the idea is to carry on as it is,” Giovanna Furlanetto said in an interview.

Several Italian luxury firms and fashion brands, including Gucci, Loro Piana and Bulgari have been snapped up by foreign buyers in recent years, highlighting the challenges of independent, often family-owned groups to compete with big conglomerates.

Furla, known for its clean, linear designs, has built its success on a growing taste for more accessible luxury goods in Europe and beyond, even as bigger brands faced cooling demand for top-end accessories.

The company has for years been considering the possibility of a market listing to fund growth, but Furlanetto said there was no hurry.

“Our target is a healthy organic growth”, she said. “Listing the company is an option, but there is certainly no urgency,” adding there was no sign that family members who own minority takes in the company wanted to cash in.

Furlanetto, who inherited Furla from her father along with two brothers, has a majority stake in the group, which is run by external managers. Her son sits on the board but has no operational role.

Editing by Silvia Aloisi