Case | HBS Case Collection | May 2013 (Revised March 2014)

Benetton Group S.p.A., 2012

by John R. Wells and Galen Danskin

Abstract

On May 31, 2012, after 36 years on the Milan Stock Exchange, Benetton was officially delisted and taken private by Edizione, the Benetton family's holding company. Since 2000, Benetton shareholders had seen its market value fall from $4.3 billion to $720 million at the end of 2011. At $2.6 billion, Benetton's sales in 2011 were virtually the same as they were in 2000, but Inditex from Spain, Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) from Sweden and Fast Retailing from Japan had all grown several times larger over the same period. What happened to this global retail giant?
Under the direction of four different CEOs since 2000, Benetton had attempted to move from being an Italian supplier of knitwear with licensed small retailers throughout the world to a vertically integrated global player by tightening management over its supply chain and rolling out directly operated superstores. These moves helped Benetton gain more control over its operations, but they also ate into its profitability. In 2012, Benetton found itself competing with fashion giants who could respond faster to market trends and deliver comparable clothes at half the cost. With Benetton under private ownership, would Harvard Business School graduate Alessandro Benetton be able to make the changes required to return the company to its former strength?

Keywords: strategy; privatization; fashion; Fashion Industry; retail; Privatization; Family Ownership; Performance Improvement; Problems and Challenges; Management Teams; Globalized Firms and Management; Change Management; Restructuring; Competitive Strategy; Retail Industry; Fashion Industry; Apparel and Accessories Industry; Italy;

Citation:

Wells, John R., and Galen Danskin. "Benetton Group S.p.A., 2012." Harvard Business School Case 713-513, May 2013. (Revised March 2014.)