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Versace's covid-19 survival strategy is a new 'signature' pattern

Designer Donatella Versace plans to unveil the design at an upcoming Milan show, a move the brand believes will help in recovering from the pandemic impact

A pedestrian walks past a closed store of the Italian fashion house Versace at the Bahnhofstrasse shopping street in Zurich, during a partial lockdown as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Switzerland February 3, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann (REUTERS)

Versace will debut a new pattern for clothes, handbags and other products next month that executives believe can singlehandedly rejuvenate the Capri Holdings Ltd.-owned label as the luxury market looks to recover from a pandemic-fueled decline.

Designer Donatella Versace has developed a “unique signature pattern” that will be unveiled at her upcoming fashion show in Milan, executives said Wednesday. When the as-yet unseen design arrives at retailers in the fall, the brand plans to pump money into a major marketing campaign around the style.

“I believe that’s going to change the trajectory of the company significantly over the next 24 months,” John Idol, Capri’s chief executive officer, said on a conference call with analysts after reporting third-quarter earnings. Shares of the company, which also owns the Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo labels, jumped as much as 7.6% Wednesday in New York before paring the gains.

Signature patterns can define high-end brands -- think Burberry’s tartan or Gucci’s red and green stripes -- and have a direct impact on sales. Versace has been trying to find a new hit design to follow the Barocco V, a logo that it has replicated across clothes, handbags, shoes, belts and jewellery.

Idol said executives are building a “more stable base” for Versace that it didn’t have prior to its $2.1 billion acquisition of the Italian label in 2018, by selling more accessories and footwear to improve operating margins. The aesthetic will still be based on runway looks and Donatella Versace’s creative concepts, he said.

“As we build out a base for this company, which the company really over its history hasn’t had compared to our luxury peers, that will improve the profitability dramatically for Versace,” the CEO said.

Versace’s revenue was flat last quarter, outperforming its sister brands Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo, which both posted large declines. Capri’s total adjusted profit of $1.65 a share topped analysts’ estimates.

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