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Luciano Benetton says he's stepping down as chairman of family-run brand as losses top US$100 million

Luciano Benetton speaks to guests after the Benetton women's Fall-Winter 2019-2020 collection, that was presented in Milan, Italy, on Feb.19, 2019. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File) Luciano Benetton speaks to guests after the Benetton women's Fall-Winter 2019-2020 collection, that was presented in Milan, Italy, on Feb.19, 2019. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)
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Milan, Italy -

Luciano Benetton, a co-founder of the apparel brand, announced he was stepping down as chairman in an interview published on Saturday with Milan daily Corriere della Sera. He blamed current management for losses of 100 million euros (US$108.5 million) that he discovered last year.

Benetton, 89, returned to the apparel brand as chairman in 2018, after having stepped down in 2012. He blamed a CEO hired in 2020 and his new management team for the losses.

“In short, I trusted them, and I made a mistake,” Benetton said. He said he first became aware that losses were compiling last September.

The apparel brand based in the northern Veneto region — known as much for its colorful knitwear as for its once splashy advertising campaigns — has struggled against competition from fast-fashion brands, with unions estimating losses at the group since 2013 at one billion euros. Benetton has undergone numerous creative and managerial relaunches in a bid to regain its footing.

Benetton’s term expires in June, coinciding with the board of the Benetton family holding company, Edizione SpA, which is expected to appoint new management.

Edizione, whose chairman is Luciano Benetton’s son Alessandro, has diverse holdings including transport and infrastructure through Mundys, and food and beverage retail, including the Autogrill chain, through Dufy.

The family holding company sold its holdings in Autostrade per l’Italia SpA after coming under intense political scrutiny following the collapse of the Genoa highway bridge that it operated in August 2018 that killed 43 people.

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