Mariella Burani Fashion Group has increased to 100 percent its ownership of Mafra, one of the most important holdings of its shoe and leathergoods subsidiary, Antichi Pellettieri, by taking over the 50 percent stake that it did not own yet in the company for an investment of €6 million. At the same time, Giovanni Stella and Elio Greci, the joint chief executive officers of Mafra, have bought a stake of 2 percent in Antichi Pellettieri for about €2.8 million.

The transaction follows a €22.3 million equity increase last Sept. 29 that gave to the LVMH group a 6 percent stake in MBFG. The French luxury group has thus become the second-largest shareholder in MBFG, after members of the Burani family, through an investment vehicle, L Capital. The latter decided last July to sell back to MBFG a 20 percent stake that it had previously acquired in Antichi Pellettieri.

MBFG is predicting double-digit increases in sales and gross operating profit for the current financial year. For the 1st half, the Italian fashion and leather group has reported a 25.1 percent increase in gross operating income (EBITDA) to €25.6 million, or 11.7 percent of sales against a margin of 10.3 percent in the same period a year ago. After amortization and depreciation, the group’s EBIT increased by 24.6 percent to represent a margin of 7 percent.

A continuous evolution of the sales mix, a reorganization of production processes and synergies from the latest acquisitions all contributed to the improved results. Total revenues increased by 9.8 percent to €219 million, thanks in part to the consolidation of Bernie’s, a Swiss chain of 16 high-end boutiques, and the expansion of MBFG’s store network, which now comprises a total of 237 single-brand and multi-brand units.

Double-digit sales increases were recorded in Eastern Europe and in Russia. A remarkable performance was obtained by a subsidiary of the company, Renè Lezard, with a sales increase of more than 30 percent in Germany. As usual, Antichi Pellettieri, the shoe and leathergoods subsidiary that controls Baldinini and other brands, performed very well. Baldinini and Francesco Biasia posted double-digit sales increases, while sales of Braccialini’s accessories grew by more than 50 percent.

Meanwhile, Baldinini has added a children’s footwear line, with all its six styles presented for the first time at the recent MICAM show in Milan. Next year the company will release a perfume, to which it has yet to give a name. The Italian footwear company has a growing business that currently generates about €35 million a year. Its top foreign market is Russia, where it has direct distribution and is on a waiting list for its eighth store. Baldinini is now looking to expand in the Middle East and Asia. It’s opening a store in Beijing later this month, and a few months later it will open a door in Shanghai. Baldinini may open a store in Manhattan within 12 months.