EXCLUSIVE: Paul Surridge Said To Exit Roberto Cavalli; Approached For Another Project

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Roberto Cavalli Spring 2019 Ready-To-Wear.

FLORENCE, ITALY — It is being reported by a well-informed source, Paul Surridge has resigned, or is close to taking that step, leaving his role as creative director of the Roberto Cavalli brand. An official announcement is expected to come soon.

Sources said the designer over the past few months has grown increasingly frustrated because of the lack of investment in the development and refurbishment of the store network as well as in marketing and communications. He is also said to feel the design team has not been supported, as resources have been scarce.

The decision last summer to look for an external investor and, more recently, to not provide any more funding have made the original project impossible, and therefore triggered Paul’s decision to look elsewhere,” said one source.

Committed to chief executive officer Gian Giacomo Ferraris and his team, Surridge agreed to stay on to design and present the spring 2019 and fall 2019 collections. However, sources now say that Surridge has been approached for another project and wants to distance himself from the company in order to be in the position to evaluate freely the next step in his career.

Ferraris has spearheaded the turnaround of Cavalli since his arrival in May 2016, reorganizing the company to keep a lid on costs. As reported, unions earlier this months expressed their concern for the future of the company and its employees in Tuscany.

In March 2015DM Fashion Book exclusively reported that Peter Dundas was appointed creative director of the Florence-based company Roberto Cavalli again (see it here).

October 2016, we announced after a year and a half, the Norwegian designer exited Roberto Cavalli SpA once again (see it here).

When he left Cavalli, the details of what Dundas planned to do had yet to be confirmed. On (Feb. 13, 2017), we confirmed that fashion designer was launching his eponymous line (see it here).

Dundas took to the helm at Cavalli following an eight-year stint at Emilio Pucci. Before that, he worked alongside founders Roberto and Eva Cavalli as the head of design from 2002 to 2005.

In (May 2017), it was confirmed that Paul Surridge was Peter Dundas‘ successor at Roberto Cavalli. He was appointed the brand’s new creative director (see it here).

Last summer 2018, we reported that the luxury Italian fashion house was opened to new investors. The house’s owners are taking stock of the performance of the brand and are liking what they see, according to market sources. As a result, Italian private equity fund Clessidra SGR, which took control of the Florence-based brand in 2015, is said to be open to bringing in other investors to inject fresh capital and expand the fashion house (see it here).

Clessidra SGR SpA acquired 90 percent of the label in 2015, while Roberto Cavalli will retain the remaining 10% of his company (see it here).

As reported, designer Philipp Plein is rumored to be especially keen to take control of the brand (see it here), eyeing an overhaul, and looking to leave his own mark on the label. In addition to his own namesake brand, which marks 20 years in business in 2019, the designer controls Plein Sport and Billionaire.

One source said Plein is “obsessed” with the brand. “It’s not surprising, he is the true heir of [founderRoberto Cavalli, he shares his same lifestyle” and jet-set attitude, transposed to the Aughts, said the source.

Plein’s company is also at the center of mergers and acquisitions speculation, with investors said to range from Permira to Carlyle circling the German designer’s fashion house. In one post on Instagram, Plein scoffed at a Il Sole 24 Ore daily’s report in December that the company could be sold for 700 million euros. “I know what I bring to the table……..for this amount I do not even sit at the table to discuss,” he wrote.

Sources say the fund Blue Star Alliance, which has investments in Tahari, Bebe and Catherine Malandrino, is also interested in the brand.

Last December 2018, we reported that Italian fashion designer and OTB Group‘s President Renzo Rosso, was interested in buying Roberto Cavalli through his OTB holding companyIl Sole 24 Ore (see it here) but sources said the group may have not actually submitted an offer. OTB’s Staff International is Just Cavalli’s licensee.

OTB Group is the parent company of Diesel, Maison Margiela, Marni, Paula Cademartori, Viktor & Rolf, Staff International and Brave Kid.

In 2018, Forbes indicated Rosso as the 10th richest man in Italy (with an estimated asset of $4.1 billion).

Sources say Tapestry Inc., parent company of Coach, Stuart Weitzman and Kate Spade (see it here), also has looked at Cavalli’s dossier, without submitting an offer. As reported, Tapestry may be eyeing possible M&A targets and has not ruled out looking overseas for the company’s next transaction.

An unidentified Chinese fund is also said to be interested.

Clessidra has been looking to exit the fashion business, according to sources. In May 2016, Italmobiliare SpA, the publicly listed investment group owned by the Pesenti family took control of Clessidra for roughly 20 million euros. Italmobiliare holds and manages a diversified portfolio of investments and equity interests worth more than 2 billion euros.

In 2017, Cavalli revenues were down 1.8 percent to 152.4 million euros, compared with 155.2 million euros in 2016.

When Clessidra bought Cavalli, financial details were not disclosed, but market sources estimated that the brand was purchased for between 380 million euros and 400 million euros. The deal was completed by a new company called Varenne, controlled by Clessidra, but including L-GAM and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd.

Founder and designer Roberto Cavalli himself retains a 10 percent stake in the firm, but he has eased out of the fashion industry.

Roberto Cavalli Spring 2019 Ready-To-Wear.

Photos Credit: Courtesy of Roberto Cavalli

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Donovan is the CEO and Editor-In-Chief of www.dmfashionbook.com. For all general inquiries please email don@dmfashionbook.com Donovan has a BA in Journalism & Media Studies from the prestigious Rutgers University. He's currently studying entertainment and fashion law.