The Turkish group intends to build a portfolio of Western brands that will generate annual revenues of €250 million in about five years' time, partly through further acquistions.

A few weeks ago, as reported, Ziylan took over the Lumberjack brand from the Italian group 3A Antonini after six months of negotiations. The transaction price remains confidential as a courtesy to the Antonini family, who does not want the sum to be revealed. Ziylan sources indicated, however, that the price tag was “significant” and above usual market valuations because it was based on the brand's potential and not only on the profit and loss account.

Ziylan began its business relationship with 3A Antonini with the acquisition of the rights to produce and distribute Lumberjack in Turkey, starting with this year's fall/winter collection. It subsequently proposed buying the brand to spearhead its international development. At that point, it entered a protracted round of talks with 3A Antonini.

The Antonini family said that it is currently in a transition phase and did not wish to comment on the sale of Lumberjack or its future plans in the footwear business. According to an industry insider, the Antonini family was divided about whether to continue to be involved in shoemaking. The group was founded in 1945 by the brothers Ezio and Alvano Antonini and their cousin Ivo Antonini. In the 1970s, Ivo took over the company and in 1979 he created the Lumberjack brand after a trip to the U.S. The brand is inspired by the American outdoors. Lumberjack enjoyed a huge success in Italy in the 1980s, when it sold up to 7 million pairs a year. In 2004, 3A Antonini bought two more upmarket shoe brands, Alexander and Alexander Nicolette. 3A Antonini is currently run by Ivo's daughter Nicla and her son Andrea Martini Antonini.

Lumberjack currently sells about one million pairs a year through 32 mono-brand stores and 1,000 wholesale clients in Italy and 600 abroad. Lumberjack represented about 90 percent of the group's revenues and the divesture raises the question about the future of the Alexander brand. 3A Antonini also has a footwear license with the Avirex brand.

Lumberjack is estimated to have generated sales of about €31 million in 2011. The figure is below the level of more than €40 million that the brand was expected to reach when Ziylan started showing interest.

In the first half of 2011, Lumberjack enjoyed tailwinds and expected that it could reach annual sales of €42 million, rising by about 35 percent compared with 2010. But the growth drastically slowed down in the second half of the year. Ziylan expects 2012 to be a transition year for the brand, whose spring/summer collection is still managed by 3A Antonini. The Turkish group believes that Lumberjack's annual sales could drop to below €30 million.

Ziylan is Turkey's leading footwear group with annual revenues of about €400 million and 5,000 employees. It has a production capacity of 2.5 million pairs a year and owns brands such as Polaris, Kinetix, Flo and Halley. It also holds the Dockers footwear license for Turkey.

The group is generating 40 percent of its revenues from 239 Flo and Polaris footwear stores and claims to handle 20 million pairs of shoes a year between manufacturing and retailing. Flo has 121 stores, of which 112 are directly operated by the group, while Polaris has 118 stores and aims to reach 150 toward the end of the year.

Ziylan is benefiting from the economic boom under way in Turkey. The government wants the country to rank among the world 10 largest economies by 2023, the centenary of the creation of the Turkish republic by Mustapha Kemal.

While it is the new owner of Lumberjack, Zilyan it has granted a master license for the brand to a newly constituted unit, Brand Park, which will manage the label. It wants to purchase other Italian and Western brands to achieve the €250 million sales mark.

Brand Park is based in Milan, where it is currently looking to set up its head office. The company is run by Attila Ulkumen, chairman, and Massimiliano Rossi, general manager. Rossi was previously general manager at 3A Antonini. He had been hired as sales director by the Italian company in 2008 as part of Antonini's efforts to relaunch Lumberjack. Rossi took part in label's expansion in retail and abroad as well as its brand extension policy, all of which will be pursued by Brand Park. The label is to be used for apparel, accessories, leathergoods and sunglasses. Rossi indicated that during the first year under Brand Park's management, Lumberjack's distribution network will remain unchanged. But in the future the retail footprint is expected to be expanded.

Brand Park is still working on its business plan, but it has already unveiled plans to turn Lumberjack into a family brand. The group is hiring a strong team of in-house designers based in Milan. It is also in contact with high-profile independent shoe designers.

Ulkumen added that significant investments are being carried out to improve logistics and administrative services to offer “high quality” assistance to distributors, agents and licensees. Brand Park will not manage the Turkish license, which continues to be held directly by the Ziyland group. Brand Park expects to be fully operational for the 2013 fall/winter collection.

The company is also defining a three-year marketing plan that is expected to be more aggressive than the one carried out under 3A Antonini, which spent about 8 percent of the brand's revenues in advertising and promotion. A co-branding agreement that started in March with Fiat may be expanded. Under the existing partnership, Fiat produced a customized Lumberjack version of its Strada pickup model. Lumberjack's marketing strategy will be conducted by Michele Tanci, previously marketing manager at 3A Antonini.

Ulkumen said that sourcing will be opportunistic but Italian production is likely to be increased and some models will be produced in Turkey. The 2013 spring/summer collection will already include models made in Turkey. Lumberjack shoes are currently produced in Italy, Portugal, India, Indonesia and China.

Brand Park is targeting the takeover of other Italian brands that have a presence in fashion and women's footwear but no new deal is expected to be completed before six months. The group continues to focus on medium-range shoes with average retail prices ranging from €49 to €89 a pair.