Ferrari's F1 Success Little Help in Race against Gucci

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 25, 2015 | Go to article overview

Ferrari's F1 Success Little Help in Race against Gucci


Byline: Tommaso Ebhardt and Andrew Roberts Bloomberg News

With more than 220 Grand Prix wins, Ferrari is the most successful Formula One team in history -- a record that goes a long way toward justifying the $200,000-plus sticker price of its street-legal sports cars.

Yet as Chairman Sergio Marchionne seeks to expand the brand into luxury goods such as apparel and accessories, that racing pedigree may hurt Ferrari as much as it helps.

Marchionne has long maintained that as a seller of sleek and speedy toys to the megarich, Ferrari has more in common with Fendi and Chanel than Fiat or Chevrolet.

"Ferrari can't be viewed just as a carmaker," Marchionne said after the company's initial public share offering last week on the New York Stock Exchange. It is "positioned in the luxury goods space with its relevant peers: the Hermes of the world, the Pradas."

Problem is, the bulk of Ferrari's non-car products are designed more for Grand Prix fans than for people who can pay $250,000 for its 488 GTB convertible. The key selling points are the company's name and its prancing-horse logo rather than the materials and workmanship that are the hallmark of the big luxury houses. That means many of its products more closely resemble a Harvard University T-shirt or a New York Knicks jersey than the $600 belts, $3,000 jackets, or $10,000 handbags sold by the likes of Gucci, Fendi and Dior.

Management has to ask "what is their ambition for the brand?" said Rebecca Robins, a director at consultancy Interbrand in London. Getting into other kinds of luxury "is a very different proposition for a brand such as Ferrari."

In a filing for its initial public offering, Ferrari said it plans to "selectively expand" sales of other goods, though Marchionne acknowledges it will take time to forge an image as a maker of anything besides cars. The company will hire people from the luxury trade to "build that business one piece at a time," Marchionne said after the New York debut. "To be perfectly honest, we are not deep in that talent pool today."

In 2011, then-chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo hired Andrea Perrone, former chief of luxury suitmaker Brioni, to expand the division. …

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