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OVS CEO Details Reasons to Buy Stefanel

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MILAN — OVS SpA chief executive officer Stefano Beraldo sees potential in the Stefanel brand, and said during a during a virtual press conference on Friday that the fashion retailer is in exclusive negotiations to acquire the storied company.

The Ministry of Economic Development is expected to evaluate the proposal next week and Beraldo expressed his hope the deal could be sealed in January. The offer is expected to total 3.2 million euros. If the deal goes through, OVS is slated to hire the employees working in the existing Stefanel stores as well as those in the offices located in Milan and in Ponte di Piave, mainly dedicated to product development.

Earlier in the week, OVS, which operates the OVS and Upim store networks, revealed a capital increase of up to 80 million euros aimed at supporting potential M&A activities, and Beraldo said it was targeting Stefanel.

Beraldo described Stefanel as “a beautiful brand,” which, despite its financial troubles, still relied on a strong and positive image. “Stefanel is more famous than its size would imply,” he said.

He touted Stefanel’s strength in women’s wear and in particular in knitwear, which he sees as an added asset. “Working from home has raised the attention on being comfortable, wearing easy knits rather than jackets,” he said. Stefanel’s expertise in knitwear will be a stimulus to improve OVS’ own offer in that category, and the retailer’s sourcing capacity will boost Stefanel’s production. “This will allow us to raise the range of OVS prices by 30 to 50 percent and lower Stefanel prices by 30 percent,” explained Beraldo.

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The executive does not plan to open Stefanel corners within OVS, conversely to the Piombo project with Massimo Piombo. In September, OVS opened 500 corners under the Piombo banner as part of a long-term project with the Italian designer. “Stefanel’s logo will likely flank our logo,” Beraldo offered.

At the same time, OVS will continue to operate the existing Stefanel stores, which number 23 in Italy. Abroad, Beraldo believes franchises will be the answer. “We’ve already received requests,” he said.

Stefanel was launched in the contemporary market segment in 1980 as the private label of the Maglificio Piave knitwear manufacturer established in 1959 by Carlo Stefanel. After changing hands a few times and a number of financial issues, Stefanel entered a special administration procedure in September 2019, and a year later, the company was delisted from the Milan Stock Exchange amid declining sales, increased debts and a deteriorating economy.

Asked about a potential interest in Benetton, which also hails from the Veneto region as does Stefanel, Beraldo said that would be “complicated” and that it is not on the agenda.

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