Sep 22, 2011
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Luxury shoemaker Ferragamo in jewellery debut

Sep 22, 2011

MILAN | Thu Sep 22, 2011 - Italian luxury goods maker Salvatore Ferragamo launched its first jewellery collection this week, targeting wealthy clients who see gold, precious metals and jewels as a safe-haven amid uncertain financial times.

Salvatore Ferragamo
Gianni Bulgari and Ferruccio Ferragamo

Global sales of designer clothes, leather bags and jewels showed double-digit sales growth in the first half of this year, but the risk of a new recession in Europe and the United States has prompted luxury makers to be cautious about 2012.

Ferragamo, which listed in Milan in June a week after Prada debuted in Hong Kong, said it hoped its new collection would help meet demand from fast-growing Asia.

"I think this (collection) will be successful, especially among Chinese clients," Chief Executive Michele Norsa told Reuters at the presentation during Milan fashion week.

He said the value of watches and gems does not diminish with time, making them a safer long-term investment than clothes and some other fashionable accessories.

Created in collaboration with Gianni Bulgari -- a scion of the Bulgari jewellery dynasty in Italy -- the collection will go on sale in October at 18 selected stores in Asia, the United States and Europe.

Prices range between 300 euros (262 pounds) to 15,000 euros. Gold prices have stormed to a record high this year, gaining about 30 percent as weakened economies in major countries and concerns over Europe's sovereign debt crisis have spurred investment in perceived safe-haven assets.

Ferragamo, whose leather shoes and clothes are favoured by such celebrities as Angelina Jolie and Lady Gaga, reported strong first-half earnings.

Profits in the period were up by more than a third to 45.7 million euros, echoing other luxury makers.

Looking to 2012, Norsa said he could not give a forecast.

"What I can say is that we continue to see a positive trend for the luxury sector, especially for those like us who have a strong exposure to Asian markets," he said.

Milan Fashion Week runs until September 27, with Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Prada and Roberto Cavalli among top names.

By Antonella Ciancio

(Reporting by Antonella Ciancio, editing by Paul Casciato)

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