Bulgari scion snaps up stakes in pizza chain and gelato maker.
Financial Times rassegna del 25/06/2018
Francesco Trapani, scion of the Bulgari jewellery dynasty and Tiffany investor, has acquired stakes in a high-end Italian pizzeria chain and a gelato maker, the latest luxury tycoon to move into the “Made in Italy” food business. The investments by Mr Trapani, 61, who sold his family’s stake in Bulgari in 2011 in a deal worth €4.8bn, comes after buyouts in Cova, a Milanese coffee house by LVMH and in Pasticceria Marchesi by Prada. “Today having someone buy an unbranded product is rare and becoming more rare, and this also applies to food,” said Mr Trapani. “We basically wanted to create a concept in the accessible luxury space with an outstanding product in a full service restaurant.” He was speaking as he opened a fourth restaurant in the Briscola pizzeria chain in Milan. Mr Trapani owns 53 per cent of the company behind Briscola and said he intended his next opening to be in London. Mr Trapani has also taken a 51 per cent stake in Geloso, a company making ice creams using only natural ingredients, whose other backers include Allegra Antinori, heiress of the Antinori wine dynasty. He declined to disclose the size of his investment. Sales of high-end food and wine rose 6 per cent in 2017, according to data from Bain & Co, a consultancy. The growth is part of a surge in demand for “luxury experience”, a trend driven by millennials. Mr Trapani, who also owns 5 per cent of Tiffany and was formerly head of the watches and jewellery division at LVMH, said millennials were the “core clientele” for the pizza and gelato investments because of demand for “niche brands”. Bankers have made a comparison between the potential today of Italy’s food industry and Milan’s fashion industry in the 1980s before it became a global phenomenon. “The difference is that we Italians have always been eating,” Mr Trapani said. “But there is an opportunity to upgrade what we eat and sell it to the rest of the world.” Luigi Consiglio, founder of consultants GEA and a food industry expert, said pizza and gelato are two of the most profitable retail operations involving low food cost, low labour cost and relatively high perceived value from a special manufacturing process. Mr Trapani’s latest move is part of a broader trend in which heirs of European industrial dynasties expand into new industries. Mr Trapani said his holding company, which owns the stakes in the food startups, is based in Luxembourg. He declined to give a value for the holding but said the bulk of its investments by value were in securities such as Apple and Google. He said only 5 per cent of his assets were in Italy, citing country risk as the decision to keep his financial exposure to his home country limited. The second strand of his investments is in Tiffany, worth $840m at today’s prices.