Founded in 1970 in Florence by Wanny di Filippo, Il Bisonte is one of the few remaining independent Italian brands for hand-crafted luxury leather handbags and accessories. It is globally recognised for its artisanal products made from naturally treated, vegetable-tanned leather sourced from Sante Croce sull’Arno in Tuscany.
Il Bisonte’s footprint covers Europe, the US and Asia and the Company sells its products through a retail portfolio of over 50 sites including mono-brand boutiques and department stores. The Company has established a particularly strong presence in Asia, led by Japan where its products are sold through a rapidly growing network of more than 30 stores in partnership with listed distributor Look Inc.
Palamon’s investment in Il Bisonte stems from its ongoing thesis work in specialty retail that identified well-positioned European brands that could rapidly accelerate growth in a global market. Palamon believes Il Bisonte, an established brand in the fast-growing affordable luxury segment, offers a particularly exciting opportunity for growth through continuing geographic expansion across both developed and emerging markets and improving its distribution capabilities through retail, wholesale and online channels.
Palamon’s previous investments in the specialty retail sector include: dress-for-less, a German online retailer for designer apparel, and feelunique.com, the leading pure-play online retailer of premium beauty products in the UK.
Following the transaction, Wanny di Filippo will remain President of Il Bisonte and on its board and continue to lead the design of future collections. The Company has appointed Giuseppe Bonfiglio as CEO. Mr Bonfiglio has built an extensive career in leading a number of international luxury and fashion brands and was most recently CEO of Harry’s of London, the luxury footwear brand. Previously, he was President and CEO of US luxury handbag and accessories brand Lambertson Truex and Commercial Director of Bottega Veneta.
Commenting on the investment, Fabio Massimo Giuseppetti, partner of Palamon Capital Partners, said: “We are delighted to be able to partner with Wanny di Filippo and Il Bisonte, a Company which has genuine heritage, deep artisanal expertise and a strong brand with proven global appeal. We look forward to building on the current success and fulfil its growth potential.”
Wanny di Fillipo, founder and President of Il Bisonte added: “I could not be happier to have found in Palamon strategic partners who share my vision for the future of Il Bisonte. Their understanding and appreciation of the unique strengths of the business, coupled with their knowledge of how to introduce the company to a broader range of customers while ensuring it remains true to its roots in Tuscan leather craftsmanship, convinced me that they can help to deliver continued success.”
Il Bisonte is Palamon’s 35th investment since the Firm’s founding in 1999. To date, the Firm has invested almost €1.1 billion in lower mid-market companies across 10 European countries, with a focus on growth as the principal driver of value creation.