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Italian fast fashion brands Yamamay and Carpisa take on the German market

by Giulia Crivelli

Italian fast fashion brands Yamamay (lingerie and beachwear) and Carpisa (handbags, luggage and travel accessories) have in just over ten years become among the most popular and successful in their respective fields, and now have an ambitious goal: to bring their exports from the current 20% to 50% of the turnover in the next three years.

To achieve this, owner the Pianoforte Group just signed an agreement with Wöhrl-SinnLeffers, a German distribution group with €600 million in revenues and 4,000 employees.

“There are many similarities between the Wöhrl dynasty and the Cimmino and Carlino families, who together have almost 90% of the capital of the Pianoforte Holding,” said Gianluigi Cimmino and Francesco Pinto, CEO of Yamamay and Carpisa respectively, and head of the foreign activities in the Pianoforte group.

“We have identified a growth path on the large German market, but the basis is a close affinity and a very similar idea of sustainable growth in the long term.”

The agreement establishes the opening of Yamamay and Carpisa shop-in-shops in the department stores branded Wöhrl or SinnLeffers, which are about 60 and distributed throughout Germany, for a sales area of 200,000 square meters.

“The first three Carpisa shops have already been opened,” said Cimmino and Pinto, “and in the coming months we will add Yamamay’s. The very first results are really good, but for now, the goal is to make the Germans know our brands and products, then we will think of the turnover.”

A second phase has already been prepared: by 2016, the group Wöhrl-SinnLeffers will open 40 freestanding flagship stores, covering most of the German cities where it is present with department stores, from Hamburg to Monaco, from Bonn to Dusseldorf and Dresden.

“The expansion to Germany is a fundamental step to achieve our goal: to grow from €285 million in revenues in 2014 (+6% over 2013, with a net income more than tripled to €6.8 million) to half a billion by 2020. Our network of shops, today made up of over 1,300 stores, almost 1,000 in Italy and over 300 abroad, mainly in Europe, will grow as well,” said the pair.

In addition to other trade or distribution agreements like this one - especially in other European countries before facing China or the United States - the road to becoming a sort of “pocket multinational” may be to go public or to open up to other type of investors, emphasized Cimmino and Pinto.

“In the transformation we were accompanied by Intesa Sanpaolo bank, which continues to support us: the Pianoforte Holding was founded in 2011 by the merger of our two brands and the Cimmino and Carlino families, founders of Yamamay and Carpisa respectively, have a stake of 43.44% each,” said the pair. “Then there are two minority shareholders: Ubaldo with 2.23% and Intesa Sanpaolo, which until a few months ago directly owned a stake of 10,89%, and which has recently sold its share to the fund Nb Renaissance, a joint venture with Neuberger Berman.”

Returning to business development, Cimmino and Pinto concluded: “The success of our brands is based on research and development, creativity and a planned fast fashion model, with the shops weekly restocked. Consumers are increasingly demanding and informed, and particularly in Carpisa, which is focusing on value for money, we also have to distinguish ourselves for our ideas.”

The news? For Carpisa, insured and “tatoo” suitcases, i.e. customizable online.

For Yamamay - with a higher positioning compared to Carpisa, and competing with brands such as Calzedonia and Intimissimi - an intense focus on materials.

Last but not least, the service. “For the shop staff training we have the Pianoforte Academy, in addition to a team committed to improving the store formats day by day. Competition is fierce, but stimulating.”