The Flexx, which has made a name for itself as a producer of comfortable and fashionable shoes that use the stitch-and-turn process, has made two important investments. It has taken over 90 percent of the shares in NR Rapisardi, a small supplier of women's shoes in Florence. Also it has acquired 90 percent of the shares in The Flexx USA, the distributor for the brand for the U.S. and Canada, which are seen as key markets where the enlarged group wants to build up the brand under its own control.

Both companies will continue to make their shoes in Tuscany. Synergies are envisaged between The Flexx and Rapisardi in the supply chain and sales. Rapisardi has already transferred all its operations to The Flexx' headquarters near Pistoia. The group's new U.S. sales subsidiary will also take care of the Rapisardi line.

The Italian group has also boosted its management to cope with the increased complexity of its business, including the offer of a wider range of shoes under the brand The Flexx. It has appointed an experienced general manager, Luciano Bagnobianchi, and a new chief operating office, Carlo Moretti. They both worked before at Primigi, the leading Italian producer of children's shoes, before moving to other companies.

Bagnobianchi led Manas from 2014, replacing Cleto Sagripanti, and then supervised its merger with Alfiere, a sister company owned by other members of the same family, creating a single entity called Alma. He left after the death of Angelo Sagripanti, chairman of the group and co-founder of Manas. Moretti worked for Geox from 2011.

The new management structure will allow the former general manager of The Flexx, Axel Kaiser, to devote more time to sales, which have not been quite steady in recent years, for various reasons. The German native has been running the company since its launch in 2006, and he still holds about 30 percent of its shares. He previously worked for Aerosoles.

In the past year, The Flexx generated a nice profit on revenues of about €30 million, including $5.5 million in the U.S., about one-third of it online. Rapisardi, a more fashion-oriented brand positioned in a higher segment of the women's shoe market, had revenues of more than €4 million.

The business plan is to develop new technologies to make lighter and flexible shoes, while making the image of The Flexx younger and sexier. The company is also planning to open more mono-brand stores, including new ones in the northern Italian towns of Merano, Cuneo and Arezzo and more to follow in 2019 while boosting its wholesale activities in Italy and abroad.

Currently, The Flexx has seven directly operated and franchised stores, all of them in Italy. Rapisardi has two stores in Tuscany, including one in Florence, and one in Doha, the capital of Qatar.