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Family business roundup: Sales up at Zegna, PPR and Fiat Industrial, down at Peugeot

By Giulia Cambieri

Ermenegildo Zegna, the Italian fashion house controlled by the founding Zegna family, saw its profits almost double in 2011, while three other family businesses in Europe have reported mixed quarterly results.

Piedmont-based Ermenegildo Zegna, chaired by fourth-generation Paolo Zegna, said on 25 April that net profit jumped 91.5% in 2011 to €115 million. Revenues at the company, which was founded in 1910 as a weaving business, also grew by 17% to €1.13 billion.

Fellow Italian Fiat Industrial, the automotive and engineering company controlled by the Agnelli family, also grew strongly during the first quarter of 2012 – profits surged by 81.6% to €207 million, compared with €114 million for the same quarter in 2011.

Revenues at the Turin-based group, which was created in 2011 when Fiat Spa split into Fiat and Fiat Industrial, increased by 9.3% to €5.8 billion during the three months to 31 March, from €5.3 billion the year before.

Sergio Marchionne, the company’s non-family chairman, said he expects the growth to continue for the rest of the year, estimating that revenues and net income will reach €25 billion and €900 million, respectively.

In France, PPR, the luxury and retail group controlled by the Pinault family, also saw double-digit growth. The Paris-based firm said on 25 April that sales from continuing operations rose by 15.4% to €3.3 billion in the first quarter of 2012.

This was largely driven by sales at its luxury division, which includes brands such as Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Yves Saint Laurent, which jumped 29% to €1.5 billion. The group’s sports and lifestyle division rose by 15%.

Second-gen Francois-Henri Pinault, who serves as the group’s chairman and chief executive, said he was confident of “another year of brisk revenue growth”.

However, family-controlled automaker Peugeot said revenues were down 7% during the first quarter of 2012 to €14.3 billion, from €15.4 billion one year earlier.

The family business blamed the economic downturn in Europe for the fall – the number of vehicles sold in the continent dropped 20% during the first three months of 2012 to 459,000, from 575,000 the previous year.