This is another, bigger Italian brand of comfort shoes that is seeking to rejuvenate its image, targeting customers between the ages of 30 and 40, reinforcing its offerings in the men's segment and adding a sneaker-inspired touch to its comfort shoes with some of its latest lightweight, flexible models.

On the technical front, Stonefly has switched from Gore-Tex to Outdry for its waterproof/breathable styles. According to company officials, the shift is reducing costs while making the silhouette less bulky. It is still offering its proprietary Bluesoft Memory shock-absorbing technology in its insoles.

Meanwhile, Stonefly is set to benefit from investments of €4 million in new technologies, some of which are shared with Lotto Sport Italia, a sports brand that has some of the same shareholders. Combined with lower sales, the investments caused Stonefly to make a loss last year, but the management is predicting a return to profits in 2018, with a sales increase of between 3 and 4 percent, after a decline to €70 million in 2017 from €78 million in 2016, attributed mainly to higher import duties in Turkey and weakness in the markets of the Middle East.

Stonefly and Lotto continue to operate as separate legal entities. Together, as a group, last year they generated a positive Ebitda margin of 7 percent on a wholesale-equivalent turnover of €359 million.

Early last year, most of Stonefly's staff at its head office in San Gaetano di Montebelluna moved not far away to Lotto's head office in Trevignano, near Treviso, with a small reduction in the number of employees.

Lotto and Stonefly are now sharing a new head of marketing and digital sales, Stefano Taboga, as well as many back-office functions and a common service platform designed to lower costs and improve efficiencies. Taboga came to Lotto and Stonefly at the end of 2016 from the Luxottica Group, where he was the global digital & omnichannel director for its Sunglass Hut brand. He had been previously in charge of digital marketing at Diesel.

Replicating what Lotto has started doing already, Stonefly is planning to implement a new ERP system and to launch a new e-commerce operation around the middle of this year.

Earlier this year, the group also hired Cesar De Armas, a former executive of Bata, as retail manager for both brands. He is working on a new layout for Stonefly's stores. Stonefly has 22 mono-brand stores in operation in Italy, including six flagships, plus seven in the rest of Europe and 51 in the rest of the world. It also has 80 shop-in-shops in Italy and 135 others in the rest of Europe. Some of the retailers that host these areas, such as Italy's Pittarosso, benefit from an automatic product replacement service.

Lotto and Stonefly are still sharing the same chairman, Andrea Tomat, who is a shareholder in both companies. At Stonefly, he is aided by Adriano Sartor as chief executive and by Silvano Salmaso, a former executive of Bata Compar, as recently became the general manager of the brand.