The Tuscan district attracts investment: the way to realize projects worth more than 100 million euros, by large brands and family laboratories, forced, to rotate, to modernize to meet the needs and times of the client brands
The luxury leather goods district of Florence does not stop and still attracts investors, this time thanks to the intervention of Cash Deposits and Loans (Cdp) that has in its portfolio, with the mission to enhance, a directional complex of more than 28 thousand meters Covered squares, built 25 years ago for the Ministry of Finance in Scandicci, the productive heart of high-end bags, and never used. That property called by all “the Palazzaccio” is about to become the new headquarters of the leather goods of Yves Saint Laurent, brand of the luxury French giant Kering now second in terms of sales only to the battleship-Gucci.
The deal is in the final stages (the contract is expected to be signed by October) and includes the 20-year lease of the property, which Cdp will partially restore before the sale. Ysl, for his part, is ready to support millionaire works to transform that complex symbol of degradation and abandonment into a “smart factory”, formed by a center-development for bags and wallets and a production center, the first of its kind in the brand in Italy. The Municipality of Scandicci has already announced the possibility of changing the destination of the property from directional to productive.
The French brand, led by Italian Francesca Bellettini and growing strongly in recent years (1.7 billion turnover in 2018, 20% in the first half of 2019), intends to use all 28 thousand square meters of the complex, essentially replicating what it has Gucci’s “cousin” with Scandicci’s ArtLab, the innovative leather goods and footwear factory (37 thousand square meters and 800 employees) opened in April 2018, representing the largest industrial investment in the history of the brand, amounting to about 100 million euros.
For Yves Saint Laurent this will not be a greenfield investment, but a “heavy” restructuring that confirms the Kering Group’s desire to continue to invest in quality manufacturing in the Florentine district, now the world leader in know-how and in services for the leather supply chain, accelerating the process of internalization of the productions that the big brands have been starting for some time.
The strategy of bringing productions back into the company, in order to better control and manage them, is pushing a range of investments never seen before in the Florentine district: more than 100 million the value of projects being implemented by part of large brands and family laboratories, forced, to rotate, to modernize to meet the needs and times of the client brands.
The latest operation is that of the Swiss luxury group Richemont that has invested two million to expand the Scandicci plant, acquiring two thousand square meters of the nearby Ab Florence (it will be inaugurated in a week). With this operation Pelletteria Richemont led by Giacomo Cortesi focuses on the industrial development and production of most of the fashion brands of the stable, from Cartier to Dunhill, from Serapian to Purdey, as well as centralizing the material control of Alaia and Chloë. Fifteen planned hires, expecting another 50 by 2023, when industrial turnover is expected to increase from 130-140 million to 350.
Yet Cortesi is cautious: “At this time there is not an area of the world that is serene and booming: in China they travel less and buy less; In Hong Kong, protests have halted the economy; In America there is a quarrelsome president; the Middle East still has too low an oil price and Brexit affects Europe.’
The Florentine leather goods, for now, does not seem to be affected by this scenario. In the first quarter of the year, stock market exports from the district were up 65% in value (touching 1.1 billion, thanks to a jump of 445 million), after the whole of 2018 had closed close to 3 billion exports (up 13.6%).
And now among the ongoing investments, which make the institutions smile, there are three handbag factories of the main luxury group in the world, the French Lvmh: one of the Celine brand in Radda in Chianti (Siena), which will be opened within the year (5 thousand square meters in the former furniture factory Laca, investment about 20 million); one of the Fendi brand in Bagno in Ripoli, near Florence (13 thousand square meters covered in the former Brunelleschi furnace, investment about 40 million), for which the demolition of the old property began four months ago; and the third Louis Vuitton in Reggello, south of Florence (5 thousand square meters), near the sample development center it already owns, which will open – as announced by CEO Michael Burke – by 2020.
Hundreds of new jobs are planned, reopening the debate on staff training that has become the thorn in the side of the district. The big brands have begun to train “home” staff, with their own or funded schools and academia, while subcontractors are at risk of having their trained staff blown away.