His name is Emanuele Pedrotti. The 45-year-old Italian management consultant replaces Jan Valdmaa, who has become the new chief executive of O’Neill, as reported in the last issue. Valdmaa acted as CEO of Fila EMEA on an interim basis, after the departure last year of Stefano Di Martino, and he remains chairman of Integrix, the parent company of Fila EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), with a minority stake. Rajiv Batra remains CEO of Integrix, which also has agreements with Russell Athletic, Ocean Pacific and Starter.
Pedrotti already worked for Fila and many other Italian and foreign fashion and sporting goods companies in the past as a consultant with Kurt Salmon Associates and A.T. Kearney, and as a top manager at Dolce & Gabbana, where he was in charge of operations, at Cerruti and at Donna Karan in New York. He consulted for Valdmaa while he ran Helly Hansen and helped to put together a business plan for Fila in the last months.
The new five-year business plan for Fila EMEA calls for a major increase in profitability through a repositioning of the Fila brand in the sports-inspired lifestyle segment, with a multi-channel strategy where the performance part of the collection will include fashionable ski and tennis garments that can also be worn for leisure pursuits.
Fila EMEA will focus on the development of clothing, with strong support from the Batra group, which is one of Integrix’ two major shareholders along with Barclays bank. A product and marketing coordination committee will ensure its collaboration with Fila’s entities in the U.S. and Korea, which will be responsible for footwear development.
The new international image of the brand, which capitalizes on its Italian roots and its sports heritage, is being relayed through a new website created by Grow, a brand-building consultant in Sweden. The group will continue to invest in sponsorships. While it is no longer involved with the Italian Tennis Open, it has signed a five-year deal as the official supplier of footwear for the Wimbledon tennis championships, starting next month. Polo Ralph Lauren is the official supplier for the apparel.
Retailing will be another investment focus. Last month, Fila opened a new flagship store on Corso Como in Milan that will carry only its fashion and lifestyle apparel collections, and some limited-edition items such as its Wimbledon tennis shoes. The opening event, which was organized by Grow, included a cool-hunting contest. Fila is moving some of its 60 Italian stores to better locations and is planning to open others in key cities around Europe. It wants to have a direct sales presence in four European countries.
Fila represented about 85 percent of the Integrix’ revenues of around €140 million last year. Sales declined somewhat as Fila pulled out of low price points, but the company generated an operating margin before amortization (Ebitda) in the high single digits.