Balmain names Massimo Piombini new CEO
Balmain has appointed Massimo Piombini to be its new CEO, changing chief executive nine months after the French house was acquired by a Mayhoola for Investments, an investment vehicle controlled by the Qatari royal family.
Piombini joins Balmain from Valentino – a sister company also owned by Mayhoola, which bought Balmain for a reported 500 million euros in June 2016. He replaces Emmanuel Diemoz, who leaves “the company after several years of exemplary leadership,” the house said in a press release. Piombini was already a member of the board of directors of Balmain International. He leaves a position as Worldwide Commercial Director of Valentino, held since since 2008.
“I am excited by this opportunity to form a part of the Balmain team, as the brand develops into a global leader in the luxury goods market,” said Piombini. “Olivier Rousteing, Balmain's Creative Director, has instilled a remarkable passion inside the house, overseeing the creation of a singular, recognizable spirit and silhouette, while always remaining focused on the mission of responding to the needs and desires of a new and diverse generation. I look forward to working closely with him and the rest of the Balmain family, helping to coherently build upon that vision and fully realize the house's significant potential for impressive future growth.”
Observers expect Piombini to drive growth in accessories, where Balmain has never been an important player, despite the critical acclaim garnered by Rousteing.
“This is definitely an exciting time for Balmain,” added Rousteing. “It is obvious that, with the arrival of Massimo, the house has all the necessary ingredients to face the many new adventures and challenges that await us. I look forward to working alongside him in the weeks, months and years ahead. Today, of course, the entire team at Balmain would also like to acknowledge how much we owe to our departing CEO, Emmanuel Diemoz.”
Diemoz joined Balmain in 2000, working closely with the house's previous chairman, Alain Hivelin, a duo which oversaw strong recent growth at Balmain. Back in 1945, Pierre Balmain founded his couture house, just three years after being called up by the French army in WW2. Noted for his sombre sense of elegance, Pierre created the black fur coat which Existentialist singer Juliette Greco wore to her wedding. After his death in 1982, the house drifted for several decades before a dramatic revival under designer Christophe Decarnin in 2006, whose distressed rock 'n' roll fantasies won great acclaim before his departure due to an apparent nervous breakdown in 2011. His successor Rousteing, however, has built Balmain into a red-hot label, with a cult following thanks to his super sexy, haut-glam aesthetic. Beyoncé, Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez are all huge fans.
Which is precisely what attracted the Qataris. Mayhoola has been known to pay a stiff price when acquiring luxury brands. In July 2012, it paid 700 million euros to buy Valentino, a whopping 31.5 times EBITDA and some three-and-half times the annual sales. However, after massive capital investment of 100 million euros annually, Valentino has broken through the one-billion-euro barrier in annual revenues, led by its highly respected CEO Stefano Sassi, Piombini’s former boss.
It remains unclear to whom Piombini will report, which is not totally surprising since Sassi has never revealed the name of his superior to the media either.
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