Benetton CEO Airoldi is out as Diesel's Brusò joins as COO
Benetton Chief Executive Marco Airoldi has quit following a board meeting Wednesday with the company chief set to stand down officially on May 16, the date of the annual shareholders’ meeting.
The fashion giant did not have any news about a direct replacement for the outgoing executive but said it had approved the appointment of Tommaso Brusò as Chief Operating Officer (COO) and granted Chairman Francesco Gori “power over core staff matters.” Analysts said Brusò is effectively coming in to take over from Airoldi and help Benetton return its business to growth in the face of intense competition at retail from fast fashion chains.
Brusò is currently CEO of Diesel USA but worked at Benetton earlier in his career in both Italy and the US. He was also US CEO for Fedon and Furla.
The company said he “will bring to Benetton Group's operations his experience in the international fashion industry, combined with a strong knowledge of Italian entrepreneurship.”
Meanwhile the shareholders' meeting next month should also see the appointment of James McArthur, who has already been co-opted onto the board since early March, as a non-executive director.
The company thanked the outgoing Airoldi, who has been with the firm since 2013 (first as a consultant then as CEO and Managing Director), saying he “contributed to the definition and subsequent launch of the company refocus and relaunch plan.”
Benetton is still controlled by the founding family and has seen a series of CEOs in the past decade-and-a-half but has struggled to find the growth it once enjoyed. It has also struggled to regain its status as a retail influencer brand even though Airoldi had overseen a major restructuring at the 5,000-store firm.
Late last year Benetton its most recent annual revenues dipped 1.2% to €1.53bn, although this was an improvement after “years of sharp contraction” in its indirect sales channel. The direct sales channel had better news with significant improvements and comparable sales rising.
The company also saw an operating profit after having made a loss in the previous year. And although it clearly has plenty of work to do, during November last year the firm hit back over reports of a crisis at the company and said press reports of massive losses were due to writedowns and other one-off items. It also denied it would sell the Sisley brand.
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