Italian leathergoods brand Furla has produced another year of strong growth in travel retail. In 2018 the channel registered a 16.2% increase over 2017, and it now accounts for 7.3% of the group’s turnover.

Much of that rise was on the back of enhanced distribution in the channel. The brand now has 293 doors – either boutiques, corners, shop-in-shops at airports and cruise ships plus inflight listings – across 64 countries.

Riding the wave: Furla’s presentation on cruise ship Costa Atlantica.

The 2018 growth in travel retail was better than the previous year, however, overall sales growth for the group has moderated.

In the 2018 fiscal year Furla’s sales rose by 5.2% at constant exchange rates over 2017 (2.8% at current exchange) to €513 million (US$601 million). Prior years showed double-digit rises.

Alberto Camerlengo: “We’ve invested significant financial resources in managing the unrestrained growth the company has experienced over several years.”

However Furla Group CEO Alberto Camerlengo said: “We are highly satisfied with these financial results, which we achieved at a challenging time for the international market. We’ve invested significant financial resources in managing the unrestrained growth the company has experienced over several years – from acquiring total control of our retail distribution network in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore, to strengthening our supply chain.”

Geographic gains

By region, and based on constant exchange comparisons for 2018, Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) had the best performance with a year-on-year increase of 18.2%. The region now accounts for 26% of total turnover.

The US grew 13.2% and now accounts for 8% of sales while Japan – the brand’s leading country market with 22% of turnover – saw sales rise by 3.6% in 2018, compared to 15.4% in 2017. In a statement Furla said that the EMEA region, which represents 44% of global turnover “maintains its market position” without providing a growth figure.

After years of global expansion the group says it is now focused on “more selective development and on categories of merchandise that are complementary to its core business”.

For example, last month during Milan fashion week, Furla introduced its new sneaker collection, supported by a series of marketing activities, to take advantage of the enormous interest in this segment.

Furla has stepped into the high-profile sneaker market.

Solidifying “wild growth”

The group has also made other significant investments. The company stated: “Furla Group is focused on solidifying the wild growth it has experienced over the past several years. The company has directed major resources toward strengthening the supply chain, as well as systemically integrating countries with direct and indirect distribution networks into Furla’s corporate culture and technology.

“The supply chain, which is key to guaranteeing quality and timeliness of manufacturing, has recently benefited from the adoption of a more evolved and high-performing computer system, as well as financial tools that free up resources so that suppliers can invest in bettering the manufacturing cycle.”

Furla has also strengthened investment in its marketing operations, with attention to digital communication and social channels which have had an increase in followers (+64% versus 2017 on Instagram and WeChat). Its engagement rates (1.59%) is also claimed to be one of the highest within the fashion luxury category.

The company’s direct e-commerce platform has had repeated investment and last year it had a substantial turnover increase of 45.7% at constant exchange rates.

Furla Group continues to strengthen its mono-brand estate, which produced 70% of turnover in 2018. Furla is present in 98 countries with 490 mono-brands (285 directly-owned, 163 franchisee, and 42 travel retail doors). Over 1,200 multi-brand and department store corners complete the company’s network.