The Prada empire, worth more than €3bn in annual sales, was built on a bag. After more than 70 years as a small leather goods business, the company was catapulted into the big league in the late 1980s when its finely woven black nylon handbags became the fashion accessory for the international style set. Admired by fashion cognoscenti for its elegance and style, Prada remains one of the few major fashion labels which retains its independence. But this has proved something of a struggle at times. Husband-and-wife owners Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada attempted during the 1990s to broaden their company into a multi-brand luxury empire to rival the likes of LVMH, but the exercise proved both costly and unsuccessful, and the group struggled under hefty debts even while its core brands prospered. Several other fashion labels - such as Helmut Lang and Jil Sander - but were later closed or sold. The group still owns footwear brands Car Shoe and Church's, but it is the main Prada brand that contributes the vast majority of group revenues - 83% in 2019 - while its more affordable sideline Miu Miu (a pet name for designer Miuiccia Prada) delivers most of the rest. Licensee partners include Luxottica for eyewear, L'Oreal and Coty for Prada and Miu Miu fragrances respectively. In a largely personal diversification, the group also acquired a controlling stake in famed Milanese pastry shop Marchesi. Plans to float the group's shares were also prepared and cancelled on several occasions as a result of market turbulence or fluctuating performance. Finally, though, Prada did manage to get its IPO away in Hong Kong in 2011. It was arguably worth the wait, becoming the most successful float by any fashion group since the late 1990s. However, the company's performance has weakened considerably since 2014, partly as a result of the economic slowdown in China, a key market for the group. Revenues for 2019 were €3.2bn, with net income of €256m. Despite the IPO, the group is still tightly controlled and run by Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada, who control around 75% of its shares through the Prada Holding entity. They also run the Fondazione Prada, one of Italy's most important contemporary art foundations; and the group's larger retail outlets are known for their cutting-edge architectural designs.
Capsule checked 19th June 2020
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Historical profile information for Prada
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Oct 2018: Ads of the Week "The Delivery Man: Midnight Request". Prada's little cinematic treats are always to be savoured. The latest, from director Ryan Hope, stars the always compelling JK Simmons (in menacing 'Whiplash' mode here, not Farmers Insurance) and lovely Pom Klementieff (from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, minus antennae). As is often the case with Prada's filmettes, the payoff doesn't do justice to the build-up - this really deserves a bigger finish - but the journey there is a delight. It's designed to promote Prada's new Cahier handbag, but actually it's Pom's dress that's the real star turn. Two other Delivery Man films have since materialised, also featuring JK Simmons, but in different more comic set-ups. They're nothing like as interesting as this one.
Adbrands Weekly Update 2nd Aug 2018: There were excellent half-year results from the luxury sector. The brightest star was Kering, the French luxury group best-known for Gucci and Yves St Laurent. Echoing a phenomenal performance in 2017, it reported a leap of just under 34% in sales for the first half of the current year to €6.4bn. That included a jump of 45% in comparable sales from North America and almost 38% in Asia Pacific excluding Japan. Gucci alone reported global organic growth of 40%, and the brand is expected to hit full-year sales of €8bn. Net income for the half almost tripled to €2.4bn, though half of that sum came from the sale of shares in Puma. This marked the group's sixth consecutive quarter of revenue growth above 35%. LVMH also performed well, though not quite as spectacularly as Kering. Organic growth for the half was 13% to €10.85bn, including a 16% increase at the core fashion & leather goods business. Watches & Jewellery and Perfume & Cosmetics did even better with a lift of 20% and 17% respectively. The best results, though, came from the bottom line: profit for the first half soared by 41% to €3bn. Prada too, which has been struggling to regain its balance in the past couple of years, delivered its best results for several quarters. Reported sales were up 3% for the half (or 9% at constant exchange rates) while net profits rose almost 11%.
Adbrands Social Media 11th Jul 2018: Ads of the Week "Summer Illusions". Oh, fashion ads! How we hate to love you! The latest from Prada is a dreamy, stunningly photographed meditation on nature, filmed not in Italy but in Comporta in Portugal. Prodco Courage made the film, with direction by Marco + Maria. As you might expect, it looks gorgeous but makes not a whit of sense, as the two leads - cut from an identical mould as the boy and girl from Prada's recent Nylon Farm film - dance blank-faced around one another through a succession of luscious landscapes. Unlike Nylon Farm, there is no underlying concept, making the result more like a series of animated stills than a story. But it's still three-minutes and 40 seconds of delicious sugar candy for the eyes, even if the brain remains entirely un-engaged.
Adbrands Weekly Update 31st May 2018: Ads of the Week: "Nylon Farm". We often bellyache about the beautiful mindlessness of designer fashion and fragrance ads; in most cases they're the epitome of what you might call Zoolander syndrome. However, Prada's promotional films are usually a cut above the rest; not just really really ridiculously good-looking but also with a bit more thought behind them. Here's the latest, a 'Black Mirror'-esque illustration of the processes by which Prada's signature nylon fabric might be created in the very near future. DLV BBDO developed the concept. Here's the first of what will be four 'episodes' being released weekly online. Let's hope the remaining three films live up to the first. [UPDATED: They didn't.]
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Sep 2017: Luxury groups LVMH and Kering have already reported strong growth in their latest mid-year financial results, but rival Prada is still experiencing difficulty. For the half-year to July, revenues were down 5.5%, EBITDA by 15% and net profit by more than 18%. CEO Patrizio Bertelli remained bullishly optimistic. "We believe that, unlike others, we serve as a guiding light," he told analysts. "Quality will pay in the future." The analysts themselves were less certain, with most reporting that a return to growth is likely to take longer than expected. Citi's Thomas Chauvet said he was "getting used to disappointment" from Prada and that timing of a turnaround "remains highly unclear".
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