In the shoes of Michele Norsa

In the shoes of Michele Norsa
Michele Norsa, chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director of Salvatore Ferragamo.

Almost everything at Salvatore Ferragamo is up - revenue is up and net profit is up. Wholesale, retail, footwear and fragrances, all up. But when Michele Norsa contemplates such bounty, his attention must sometimes be drawn downwards, specifically towards his left trouser pocket.

There, the CEO of the luxury goods house - by his own admission a very superstitious man - keeps his good luck charm of 25 years, an amber stone that just about fits inside his palm.

Speaking to The Business Times at the brand's Paragon Shopping Centre store, he pulls the stone out of his pocket on request. "I always have an amber (stone) in my left pocket . . . for a few years, I was carrying it in the right pocket, then I found somebody who told me it should be in the left pocket," Mr Norsa explains. "The amber changes . . . I was using a different one until last year."

There are other means that Mr Norsa employs in the pursuit of a charmed life. He avoids unlucky European numbers, and thanks to prolonged exposure to the Asian markets, also steers clear of the number 14. "I never sit (on seat) 14 on the plane," he says.

And then, there are the teddy bears. The tie he is wearing is a special World Cup one that is not in stores yet at the time of the interview, dotted with football-loving teddy bears. It is not clear how the ursine creatures manage this precarious balance of good luck and bad, but whatever it is that Mr Norsa is doing, it is working.

Almost three years since Mr Norsa took the group public, the stock has gained analyst approval, with some reckoning that the group will pull in the fastest growth in earnings before tax and interest in its class for the 2012-2016 period.

If it weren't for Mr Norsa, there would very likely be no Salvatore Ferragamo counter on the Borsa Italiana today. Having joined the group in 2006, he bears the distinction of being the first outsider to head the family-controlled firm.

Tasked with whipping the firm into a shape presentable enough for a listing, a lesser man would have baulked. But by then, Mr Norsa had already brought one other fashion house - Valentino - public, and played a leading role in other family companies such as Benetton and Rizzoli.

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