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Balmain names new CEO

By Kristopher Fraser

Apr 3, 2017

People

Massimo Piombini has been named the new chief executive officer of Balmain. The story broke this morning on WWD. His appointment is effective immediately.

Piombini succeeds Emmanuel Diemoz. This executive shift signals the change in direction of the brand as they position themselves as a bigger global luxury power player under their new Qatari owners.

Piombini is already a member of Balmain's board of directors. He previously served as the worldwide commercial director of Valentino S.p.A., which is also owned by Mayhoola for Investments. Mayhoola seems to be slowly positioning themselves to become a global luxury conglomerate the likes of LVMH or Kering.

His predecessor Diemoz joined the company in 2000, and steered Balmain through a phase of exponential growth.

Piombini and Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing said they have plans to speed the expansion of global store growth and grow product categories. The brand appears to have their eye on accessories and leather goods as categories for growth.

“There is a great opportunity in the market. Balmain is one of the best hidden secrets, because it’s not developed at full potential yet, and so with the support of Olivier and a structure that we have and that we are going to reinforce, I think we’re going to have a great future,” Piombini said to WWD.

Massimo Piombini named Balmain's new chief executive officer

Rousteing plans on shifting the brand's aesthetic to appeal to a wider set of consumers.

“This is definitely an exciting time for Balmain,” said Rousteing. "It is obvious that, with the arrival of Massimo, the house has all the necessary ingredients to face the many new adventures and challenges that await us. I look forward to working alongside him in the weeks, months and years ahead. Today, of course, the entire team at Balmain would also like to acknowledge how much we owe to our departing ceo, Emmanuel Diemoz.”

The new focus will be on casual luxury, more jersey, more denim and more knitwear.

Rousteing's designs have been the driving force behind Balmain's growth and fame in recent years. His sizable celebrity following which includes Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, Rihanna and Beyoncé, has helped turn the brand into a household name.

In 2015, Balmain collaborated with H&M for a collection that sold out immediately, and even crashed the latter's website the morning of its release.

According to data from Instagram, during Paris Fashion Week last month, Balmain had the highest social engagement of any brand, reaching 1.9 million people.

Despite its large following and social media success, Balmain is still a relatively small player among luxury brands. The brand's revenue for 2015 was just 134.8 million dollars. Piombini declined to disclose figures for 2016, but said they saw growth despite a challenging luxury goods environment.

In addition to Balmain and Valentino, Piombini has also held positions at Bally, Gucci, Bouchéron and Bulgari.

His business plan includes bringing down the wholesale business from 80 percent to 55-60 percent within the next five years. He hopes to take the current number of 16 stores to 30 to 35 stores.

In June, Balmain is set to open a boutique in Los Angeles. They also have their sights set on Miami as the next location for a U.S. store.

Additional plans for growth include building their fragrance portfolio after the early termination of their original twelve year agreement with Inter Parfums SA.

2017 is expected to see a whole new Balmain.

Photos: via Balmain