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Still Looking for a Turnaround, Benetton Hires a New CEO

In addition to recruiting fresh leadership, the Italian company is planning to restructure for 2015.

For more than a decade, The United Colors of Benetton has been trying and re-trying to make a turnaround. The Italian basics retailer has now announced the latest move in its ongoing attempt to find its footing: The appointment of a new CEO, Marco Airoldi, who will join the company next month.

Now a senior partner at Boston Consulting Group and a managing director in Milan, Airoldi will replace current CEO Biagio Chiarolanza, who has been with the company since 1994. Airoldi is not a new face to Benetton parent company Edizione, having previously worked for its catering chain, Autogrill, Reuters reports.  

Along with the leadership change, Benetton plans to spin off its clothing, manufacturing and retail operations into three separate divisions, Reuters reports, with restructuring slated to be in place by early 2015. A representative for Benetton did not immediately respond to request for comment.

With competition from fast-moving European chains like Zara and H&M, Benetton has taken hit after hit for the last decade. In 2003, the company lost money for the first time in its then-38-year history and announced a four-year recovery plan to get itself back on track. Come 2012, the company decided to retreat, delisting itself from the Milan Stock Exchange, and Edizione bought out the 33 percent of Benetton that it did not own. In its last year as a public company, profits dropped roughly 31 percent.

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Most recently, Benetton was implicated in the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, despite the feel-good, global citizenry image it projects in its advertisements. As with about half of the retailers whose products were produced in the factory, Benetton has yet to pay reparations to the fund that will compensate the families of the victims. 

This is all to say: Airoldi has his work cut out for him.