In another turn of events, Moncler this morning announced its 100 percent acquisition of smaller rival Stone Island in a transaction valuing the brand at €1.15 billion (about $1.4 billion). The deal is expected to close by the first half of 2021. It's the first purchase for the Milan-based luxury brand mostly known for its signature puffers and parkas.
According to Moncler, the two brands will remain separate, autonomous entities, although the acquisition will see the brands share information on how to best capture the American and Asian markets, as well as amplifying their direct-to-consumer channels for the new luxury customer, and push further into sustainability.
Between November 2019 and October 2020, Stone Island hit €240 million Euros (about $291 million) in revenues despite the global pandemic dramatically affecting foot traffic in stores and sales overall. Carlo Rivetti, Chairman and CEO of Stone Island said in a statement, "Remo [Ruffini] and I have decided to combine forces and visions to meet together and with greater strength than ever the challenges we all face. We share the same roots, similar entrepreneurial journeys, and the utmost respect for the profound values of our brands and our people. And we are Italians."
The sale comes just a month after The North Face and Vans' owner VF Corp bought Supreme for roughly $2.1 billion in what was the biggest acquisition of a streetwear brand in history, symbolizing streetwear's radical change in scale.
We called up Moncler's CEO and Chairman, Remo Ruffini, to ask him what it was that attracted him to Stone Island, and everything that's next for the brand.
On Why it Acquired Stone Island
“We started talking a year ago, they got a lot of proposals from private equity but [Stone Island's Carlo Rivetti] didn’t want to sell to private equity, more to a family-owned [brand]. We started to talk very lightly and we included some lawyers, then we started talking more. Step by step we came to the agreement 10 days ago. At the end of the day we realized it could be very interesting. They’re a very nice family. They’re very close to us. I’ve been looking for an acquisition, and Mr Rivetti was looking to sell the company.
On the Future of Stone Island
“I don’t want to put them in the shoes of a big luxury brand. I think there could be a possibility for the market, for the new generation. I don’t want to call it 'new luxury' but what I wrote in the press release this morning, it’s like a cloud at the moment. Let’s see if the cloud is going to open or not. I want a new approach. At the same time, I think they have a big potential to grow in general and come up on a new position. The luxury world has changed a lot. A lot of brands are able to attract a young generation. When we introduced Moncler Genius three years ago we saw that. Louis Vuitton since they hired Virgil, they got a more young customer as well. In terms of communications. Also Dior with Kim Jones. They really moved the brand into a new atmosphere. Five years ago Dior was competing with Chanel. I feel like we're [now] in this world and we’re very happy to be there.
At the same time I feel like we have a lot of work to do. My feeling is that even though Stone Island has a different approach, we can take them a bit more into this world. We can try to improve our strategy but if we can take them there, it will be something very interesting.
On What Will Change for Stone Island Fans
Nothing will change. It’s only about improving things. I love the company so this isn’t a distress project. It’s about fine tuning almost anything like we did with [Moncler] back in the day. And then I think with our organization we can speed up this process. But the DNA, the collection, the communication and product, don't have to change much. When I say fine tuning, what I mean is that we can always do better. We are going to help them to improve everything.
On a Change in Price Point
The price point [Stone Island] has now is perfect, the margins are quite good so there’s no reason to increase it. I don’t want to touch the positioning because I think that Mr. Rivetti did an amazing job. I don’t see this criticism, but I don’t think [consumers] should be worried.
On the Importance of Creating Energy
Energy is everything, if the energy isn’t there you’re dead. In this pandemic if you lose energy, you’re dead. You can speed up your strategy. Moncler and Stone Island have a lot of energy. Stone Island has a different approach to energy, but it’s a company so pure and clear that is an added value to the brand. We really want to keep them as two different companies with different approaches, but help them. Also with organization we can help develop them with the organization.
On Seasonality and Positioning
[Stone Island] is already more balanced than [Moncler]. If you think about the seasonality, for them it’s 50/50 for summer and winter for us it’s 75 percent winter and 25 percent summer. With the mix of categories, we’re 80 percent jackets / coats and 20 percent other categories, while Stone Island is 30 percent jackets and the rest other categories, which means they’re much more balanced. It’s because we have a different DNA. We came from the mountains and they came from the seaside and this military marina. We both have a very strong positioning. I think Moncler can improve other categories but we’re not rushed. The most important thing is to not lose our roots and be very clear with our customer that we’re Moncler. We don’t want to become a surf brand, we don’t want any confusion. We both have to improve our strategy, distribution and everything but it’s a question of managing it in the right way. There’s nothing to destroy or redesign from scratch.
On Moncler Becoming a Fashion Group
Honestly, I didn’t expect the big transformation VF Corp has done in the past three to four years. About five years ago they were outside of the good conglomerates. Now they made a couple of good moves. Like buying Dickies was very strong, they sold a few brands that I don’t think were very interesting for them. Buying Supreme was a good approach. They started creating a group that is very young and it’s very interesting. That said, we don’t have the same approach. We’re two families and we want to build something different. I don’t want to say that tomorrow we won’t buy another company, but I don’t think so at the moment. The idea is to build up something unique for the market and not another luxury group that I think we have enough of around the world. But if I think we can build something of unique value, I’m open to talk and listen to everyone.