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For Renzo Rosso, an Italian luxury group can still exist

Among the brands the entrepreneur would like to acquire are Jacquemus, Rick Owens and Casablanca

For Renzo Rosso, an Italian luxury group can still exist Among the brands the entrepreneur would like to acquire are Jacquemus, Rick Owens and Casablanca

Things are going well for Renzo Rosso's OTB Group. Glenn Martens is firing on all cylinders at Diesel, Maison Margiela has doubled its turnover in three years, Jil Sander is back to generating profits after being put out of business by its previous owners Onward, Marni is enjoying ever-widening success as it prepares to launch a collection with Uniqlo, and even Amiri, in which OTB owns 20 percent, is grinding good earnings. And with a stock market listing looming ever closer, Renzo Rosso dreams of an acquisition that could cement his importance in the luxury market even more by looking at (currently untouched) brands such as Jacquemus, Rick Owens, and Casablanca-at least that's what the entrepreneur told BoF. The group's sales in the past year have risen to 1.5 billion euros, little compared to its "Italian cousins" Prada and Armani and even less compared to the two French behemoths LVMH and Kering-but there is no question that the group's brand portfolio is virtually unparalleled in Europe in terms of the prestige of the cult brands within it. 

It was precisely the idea of a "cult brand" that was the fuel for OTB Group's success, along with Rosso's own ambition, which invested in John Galliano for Maison Margiela at a time when the former was still a pariah and the latter a renowned but unprofitable brand; in Francesco Risso when Marni was still an ultra-niche hit that did not seem prepared to explode globally; in Jil Sander when the hand-offs to which the brand had been subjected had weakened its performance. But above all, now that Moncler's Remo Ruffini has said he is not interested in new acquisitions, now that Diego Della Valle has said it is too late for an Italian luxury group, and now that Italy's big independent brands continue to operate like so many duchies and lordships coexisting without really collaborating, Renzo Rosso is the Italian entrepreneur who is building something similar to the big groups beyond the Alps, while focusing less on commercial giants and more on names with loyal following and an alternative approach.

«I can’t compete with the French groups financially. But I can do something that’s special, alternative», Rosso told BoF. It should be added, among other things, that the group's manufacturing infrastructure, Staff International, produces not only the products for the brands in its portfolio (from the democratic luxury of the new Diesel to the hyper-exclusive Jil Sander) but also for brands outside of it-multiplying its revenues. In terms of revenue, then, the most delicate operation at the moment is the repositioning of Diesel, which, after the arrival of Glenn Martens and the debut at Milan Fashion Week the hype around the brand is returning, with some luxury retailers responding positively to its revamp-even if its placement in the firmament of Italian luxury fashion needs to be completed: «In some department stores we still don’t have the right neighbours», said Rosso. «And to get with the right neighbours, we need the right positioning».