In the first nine months of 2023, the major global fashion groups recorded, on average, an increase in turnover of 8%, supported by Asia (+9%) and Europe (+8%), while North America is the only geographical area in decline (in 2022 it was the brightest). This is what emerges from a fashion report published in February by the Mediobanca Research Area, which examined the financial and sustainability data of the 80 largest fashion multinationals, with revenues exceeding one billion euros each, and of the 175 most prominent Italian companies of the sector, with individual turnover exceeding 100 million.

2023 growth
According to analysts, the first evidence for the whole of 2023 suggests growth of 7% over 2022, slowing down compared to the record-breaking 2022. For luxury groups, the increase on an annual basis should be more pronounced, equal to +9%.

«The macroeconomic context, the solid fundamentals of the sector and the stabilization of growth, after the brilliant post-pandemic results, suggest a future consolidation of the sector, with further investments by multinationals in the supply chain and in strengthening supply chain control» say Mediobanca analysts. «For 2024 a slowdown in growth is expected, which should stop at 4%, also supported by the increase in price lists implemented in recent months and by an acceleration of tourist flows».

Italian companies

As regards the major Italian companies, after a brilliant two-year period, the preliminary data for 2023 indicate an aggregate turnover growth of 6% over 2022 and greater dispersion compared to the past, “confirming the strong uncertainty of the scenario”.

Revenues were driven by sales abroad (+7%), where Asia was the most dynamic market. Thanks to the contribution of tourists, Europe was also positive, while the North American market emerged as suffering.

For the big Italian companies, further moderate growth in turnover is expected in 2024 (+3%), which should bring aggregate revenues to close to 94 billion, assuming a context of decreasing interest rates and inflationary tensions, combined with financial solidity and the high quality of the products and services offered which take into account organic investments (expected to increase by a third of companies) and M&A activities.

Global Fashion multinationals

In 2022, the 80 largest global Fashion multinationals had a total turnover of 566 billion euros (+11.7% on 2021, exceeding pre-pandemic levels by 21.6%). 58% was generated by European players and 33% by North American ones. Among the 37 European groups, Italy is the country with the most protagonists (12), while France stands out in terms of turnover (43% of the European total), ahead of Germany (11%), Spain and the United Kingdom (10 % both). Italy represents only 7% of the total.

Under profitability in 2022, the 80 big names in the Fashion Industry achieved an EBIT margin of 15.1% (from 13.1% in 2019), the result of the aggregation of two different clusters: on the one hand, the luxury giants with the EBIT at 24.4%, on the other the mass-market players with 9.7%.

Inflation and profitability

However, the 175 Italian companies analysed generated sales of 85.9 billion euros in 2022, an increase of 19.1% in 2021 and 20.4% compared to pre-crisis levels. In 2022, the return of inflation also hit the Fashion sector, albeit in a less incisive way than the rest of Italian manufacturing. Business growth remains double-digit even when adjusted for inflation: +12.9% in 2021, with exports at +13.3% and national sales at +12.2%.

High-end producers, in particular, achieved +20.3%, while players in the cheaper segment stopped at +11%.

As for profitability, the Italian companies analyzed went from an ebit margin of 11.8% in 2019 to 12.2% in 2022. The leather and footwear sector reported even more satisfactory banks (18.3% in 2022), followed by eyewear (16.5%). The EBIT margin for high-end products was 16.4%, almost triple that of productions for the mass market (6.1%).