Investindustrial adds B&B Italia to its growing portfolio of design brands

Business news: Investindustrial, the Italian investment firm that last year bought a controlling stake in lighting brand Flos, has acquired a majority share of furniture company B&B Italia.

Giorgio Busnelli, son of late B&B Italia founder Piero Ambrogio Busnelli, will remain a shareholder and CEO of the brand, which is based in Novedrate in northern Italy.

The investment will help B&B Italia grow its international business, Investindustrial said.

"Giorgio Busnelli and his team have demonstrated that they have a very clear vision of the market and sector in which the company operates," said Andrea Bonomi, senior partner at the fund.

"Investindustrial will support this vision and make available the resources necessary to allow B&B Italia to continue to grow internationally, where the company's excellent design capabilities, product quality and creativity are already well known."

Busnelli said: "Due to its experience in the high-end market and design, it will be able to provide us with the expertise and resources needed to pursue our long-term strategies of internationalisation and industrial development."

Bend Sofa by Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia
Top image: Le Bambole by Mario Bellini for B&B Italia. This image: Bend Sofa for Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia

B&B Italia's turnover was €160 million (£115.6 million) in 2014, of which 80 per cent was due to exports. Investindustrial, which owns a stake in luxury car maker Aston Martin, is understood to be making the investment via a subsidiary €1 billion (£722.8 million) private equity fund that is steadily building a portfolio of design brands.

Investindustrial's investment in Flos last year – rumoured to be around €400 million (£289 million) for an 80 per cent stake – enabled the lighting brand to purchase architectural lighting company Ares, Bonomi said, and hinted that B&B Italia could follow the same strategy of acquisition.

"Having acquired Flos and providing it with all the tools needed for growth, the company was in a short period able to add Ares, a key Italian company in the production of architectural lighting units for outside areas," Bonomi said. "Similarly, we are proud to be able to now contribute to the development of a company with an excellent reputation in the area of design furniture such as B&B Italia."

B&B Italia was founded in 1966 and is one of the most prestigious Italian family-run design brands. Its portfolio includes products by leading international designers including Naoto Fukasawa, Patricia Urquiola, and Barber and Osgerby.

In 2011, Busnelli and his brother Emanuale regained control of the family company from Opera, another investment house. B&B Italia recently sold its 25 per cent stake in luxury design brand Moooi to the Dutch firm's founders, Casper Vissers and Marcel Wanders.

Earlier this year Busnelli was understood to be looking to sell the brand to an American company, but a deal could not be reached.