Image: Tod's

Tod’s will welcome a new member to its board of directors this month. Under the watch of founder and chairman Diego Della Valle, the Italian Group – which owns the marquee Tod’s leather goods brand, as well as Roger Vivier, Hogan, and Fay – has officially added Chiara Ferragni as a director, in furtherance of what Reuters calls an attempt to “step up its efforts to win over the younger shoppers fueling the sector’s growth” in light of new strategy that the 101-year-old brand has been working on since 2017. The price of the Marche, Italy-headquartered group’s Milan Stock Exchange-traded shares jumped more than 10 percent after the April 9 announcement that 33-year old Ferragni would join the stalwart Italian company. 

“We are sure that Chiara’s knowledge of the world of young people, combined with the experience of the other board members, can build thoughts focused on solidarity towards others, with a strong focus on younger generations, which, now more than ever, need to be listened to,” Tod’s asserted in a statement earlier this month, in a nod to the group’s quest to re-engage with younger consumers, particularly following the slump that it has suffered in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While Tod’s has been among the recurring names on a list of likely acquirees in the industry’s enduring pattern of mergers and acquisitions, with the Wall Street Journal’s Carol Ryan stating back in 2018 that Tod’s was one of the names that “fit the bill” when it comes to possible M&A targets. She also pointed to Salvatore Ferragamo, which was “struggling to attract the young Chinese shoppers that now drive demand in the sector.” Fast forward to December 2020 and Ms. Ryan remained consistent in message: “After this year’s massive shift toward digital shopping, underperforming listed brands like Tod’s, or those still in founders’ hands such as shoemaker Christian Louboutin,” were likely to be scooped up. (Exor N.V. announced that it would take a 24 percent stake in Louboutin in March). 

In addition to tapping Ms. Ferragni, Tod’s is in the midst of a creative overhaul with Walter Chiapponi, formerly at Gucci and Valentino, at the helm, and in light of shifting priorities from management, which appear to be fully focused on digital. As Della Valle asserted in connection with the group’s FY2020 revenue report that they have “increased investments in marketing, in all its forms, mainly digital, which we deem as a crucial communication tool to dialogue with the new generations of consumers, which we consider a priority to fuel the future growth of our turnover.” At the same time, he asserted that the group is “very happy with the results obtained with the e-commerce channel, which recorded a gradual acceleration during the year, reaching and exceeding our expectations and which is still continuing to grow at a very high rate.”