Background information

benetton1The Benetton brand was created in 1965 and became in a few years well recognized worldwide as the name of Italian made trendiest colorful casual wear, also thanks to the aggressive and often provocative advertising campaigns designed by Italian shock photographer Oliviero Toscani. At the same time, Benetton also shortly became a case history for its innovative business model: the Benettons are in fact recognized worldwide as the creators of the franchising model in their industry – the alternative to building chain stores to distribute the clothing that avoids the investments and liability of a chain. They first started by opening outlets with the franchise formula, in other words by investing other people’s money, in the most elegant spots of the cities, mostly downtown: simple and innovative lighting systems were key to enhance colors and quality of the new items of clothing, which were produced in the natural color of wool and then colorized at the very last minute according to the swings in customers’ demand. Almost half a century past, the clothing business represents nowadays just a minor component of the Benettons’ empire as the family from Veneto hugely diversified interests range today from motorways (Atlantia), to airports and railway stations (Rome’s airports operator ADR and Grandi Stazioni), to the world’s leading provider of food & beverage and retail services for travelers Autogrill, to finance and investing with Edizione holding company, up to the publishing business with the ownership of Venice’s bestselling newspaper Il Gazzettino. The Benettons have quite a copious family: of the two founding brothers, Luciano always followed the clothing business, while Gilberto geared up the diversification of the group. The former recently passed the baton to his son Alessandro, who is believed to be doomed to take the helm of the entire family business. Currently, the traditional clothing Benetton brand is still strong in southern Europe markets, Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal, but even there it has to face the challenge of new aggressive competitors such as Zara e H&M. In order to give Benetton the opportunity to be re-organized and re-positioned under the lead of Alessandro, the stock was de-listed from the Milan stock exchange in 2012 while executives at Benetton’s clothing business are now focused on a more customer-centric, collection-based model.

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