Translated by
Nicola Mira
Nov 20, 2018
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Italian label Twinset to be sold by Q1 2019

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Nov 20, 2018

US investment fund Carlyle is looking for a buyer for Italian fashion label Twinset, and is reportedly about to strike a deal. According to FashionNetwork.com sources, the operation began at the start of the year and should be finalised by the first quarter 2019. In 2012, the US investment fund had already acquired a majority shareholding in the label, and its stake then rose to 100% in 2017, so that Carlyle could have absolute freedom in making a divestment.

Twinset is undergoing a mutation - twinset.com

Chinese group Fosun is one of the potential buyers. Via its Fosun Fashion Group subsidiary, it already owns Italian menswear group Caruso, and has stakes in US label St. John Knits and German label Tom Tailor. Also, it recently bought French luxury label Lanvin and Austrian lingerie brand Wolford. However, Fosun isn’t the only name on the cards, and other options are available.

The operation to sell Twinset was initiated nearly a year ago, and turned out to be more complex than planned. The label’s growth hasn’t been as strong as expected, and the company’s valuation remains the main stumbling block. Twinset is positioned in the accessible luxury market segment. It has undeniable potential, but one that is as yet unrealised. In the last two years, it has undergone profound changes, in terms of brand identity, product range and international expansion. Its market repositioning necessitated significant investments, whose returns will undoubtedly not be visible before one or two years.

After Alessandro Varisco took charge of the label in 2015, Twinset began to move forward, embarking on a far-reaching transformation which became even more profound from 2017, when Carlyle took complete control and the founders, Tiziano Sgarbi and his wife, designer Simona Barbieri, left Twinset. At the time, they still held a stake in the company they had created in 1990 in Carpi, a town in central Italy once renowned as a hub for knitwear production.

Exactly a year ago, Twin-Set Simona Barbieri was rechristened Twinset Milano, and two new designers took charge of the label’s creativity, Lara Davies and Bill Shapiro, who were tasked with making Twinset's brand image, until then very romantic and typically Italian, suitable for a more global market, by adopting a punchier, more contemporary style.

In parallel, the range, which besides womenswear also includes a junior collection for young girls and a lingerie line, was extended to also feature menswear. New brand ambassadors were signed up, like top model Bianca Balti, to appeal to Millennial consumers.

All of these elements had an impact on the company results, and probably Twinset would need another two years to consolidate these structural changes. Not to mention the major investments made in the last year and a half to grow the business globally, with store openings at all latitudes, from Europe to Russia and the USA. Twinset currently operates about thirty stores outside Italy, including one in rue du Vieux Colombier, Paris, and has recently inaugurated a fourth store in Milan, a 300-square-metre flagship in the heart of the city, on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II.

In 2013, Twinset generated a revenue of €180 million, of which 65% came from Italy. In 2017, revenue rose to €245 million, with an operating income of €46 million, though the Italian market still accounted for nearly 60% of sales.

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