Monday, December 3, 2012


3rd largest luxury handbag brand/company in the world.  For fashion and leather, the Prada brand had 2011 sales of 2b Euros, compared to:
  • LV's sales of 8.7b (includes all LVMH's fashion and leather brands - Fendi, DKNY, Loewe, Celine and others - majority of sales are probably from Vuitton).
  • Gucci's 3.1b (part of PPR).

What do they do?

In 1H12, 62% of their (company wide) sales were leather goods (excluding footwear), so we'll concentrate on that.  In Asia, I would say that all the 'fashion' stuff is really just there to decorate handbag shops.

Prada bags are roughly the same price as LV, in the middle of HSBC's luxury pyramid:

I believe Prada is targeted at women over 30.  Their sister brand, Miu-miu, has bags around 30% cheaper, aimed at younger people.

Prada also owns Church and Car Shoe - they are insignificant so ignored here.

Prada is more fast-moving than LV: they are more design or fashion driven.  As a they were initially a clothing brand, they have collections and fashion shows every year.  As much as 70 percent of its products are renewed every year.  They also hold 'flash sales' of limited edition items available one-time only, and constantly add new collections (e.g.: Valentines day).  Although their signature look is "black leather with a small gold logo", they have a larger variety of bags with different shapes/colors, compared to LV or Gucci:

Although LV's bags have changed (e.g.: neverfull), their colors and logos are the same as from ten years ago.  Even their new designs (e.g.: Athena hobo) are 'logo driven'.  Every bag I see  in an LV shop had an instantly recognizable logo.  Good, because the bags are 'timeless' and instantly recognizable.  Bad, because they are becoming boring and ubiquitous.

Other than that, Prada's business model is similar to Vuitton:
  •  Opening new retail outlets:

          They intend to add 100 outlets in 2012, 60 in 2012 and 60 in 2014.

          From DBS (Mar 12), they still have less than half LV's outlet numbers.

           Still have low penetration in China and the US:

  • Reducing sales through franchise stores (down to 25 stores in July 2012):

  • Reducing mark down policy: DBS Mar 12: "Since 4Q09, Prada has cut down price reduction rate for certain products from 50% to 30% and some from 20% to 10%".
Interesting that Prada spends a lot less on marketing and advertising than LVMH (5% vs 11.5% of sales in 2011).

Made in China?

Unlike Vuitton, which manufactures its products in-house in Factories in Europe and California , Prada manufactures all over the world.  From the DBS report: "It outsources c.80% of its product manufacturing processes to  c.480 external manufacturers (semi-finished and finished products) while keeping the balance 20% of processes in-house, hence ensuring at least one important phase of the production process is performed internally. Prada has a total of 11 in-house factories (10 in Italy,  1 in England)."

About 20% of Prada's collection (including some bags) are made in China.   "Sooner or later, it will happen to everyone because [Chinese manufacturing] is so good," Prada designer Miuccia Prada said in an interview.  "What do you care where I make my shoes?" says Prada Group NV Chief Executive Patrizio Bertelli. Where local laws permit, Mr. Bertelli says he'd prefer to insert a "Made by Prada" tag in his products.

I think that Prada is doing this because, as they are more design and fashion orientated, they need faster and responsive manufacturing capabilities.  Unlike LV.  I don't know if this will become an issue: Coach and Burberry manufacture in China, but their bags range from several hundred to SGD 1.5K - almost half the price of a Prada or LV.  I believe that, for an Italian luxury brand, people do not expect their bags to be made in China.  And in Prada's price range, people do want to have to search for the hidden label to see where something is made.

Maybe people will accept it, maybe not.  This is possibly a serious threat to the image...the authenticity of the brand.


Company is led by Micciu Prada (63) who handles fashion, and her husband Patrizio Bertelli (66) who handles business.  This article suggests that their children (early 20s) may not be part of the business.

This article mentions a high turnover of execs due to Bertelli's style.

An old 2001 article: Bertelli, some Prada people say, wants to go mass-market by buying brands such as Italian tennis-shoe company Superga and sticking the Prada name on everything from fragrances to jewelry. " 'We don't see ourselves as a luxury company in strict terms,' says Bertelli, who points out that people who buy Rolex watches also buy Swatches. "  Fashion or Luxury?

Could not find Prada's conference call transcripts.

The company is under family control: almost 80% of Prada SPA shares are held by PRADA Holding BV, leaving a ~20% free float.

Profit breakdown

Their largest costs are COGS, which as a proportion of sales has been dropping steadily over the years.; Probably due to the increasing proportion of retail sales:

This has givem both top and bottom line growth for the past few years.

Their expansion over the years comes at a risk of increasing operating leverage (e.g.: fixed costs from store rentals). Their operating costs are given in 2 breakdowns (footnote 35).  The main one is personnel, followed by Admin: Its not really possible to guess which are fixed costs and which are variable:

The largest costs in in the 2 different breakdowns are 'Selling' expenses and 'Staff' costs.  Fixed or variable?  I do not know if Prada sales associates earn a commission or not.  Some brands pay commission (6% given here), some don't (Vuitton).  COGS is probably variable, since most of their production is outsourced.


From the 1H12 results, balance sheet looks clean. Debt has steadily been shrinking since listing in 2010.  Retirement liabilities of 42m are insignificant compared to the 289m half-year's profit.

Only possible issue is the high operating lease commitments: 254m due within 1 year.  And 771m due in the next four years.  A significant fixed cost.

There one contingent liability: The Shareholders’ agreement signed between PRADA spa and Al Tayer Insignia llc for the development of a Prada and Miu Miu network in the Middle East provides that the parties may exercise an option whereby PRADA will buy back up to 20% of PRADA Middle East fzco shares.


CashFlows from operations has been higher than earnings every year since listing.  The difference is mostly depreciation and amortization:

Working capital is usually negative (but very small compared to the depreciation and amortization).  WC was only positive in 2009, as inventories and receivables were drawn down, probably due to recession:

CFI has been less than CFO, generating free cashflows every year:


Seems to be a cash cow, and growing.  In that respect, its like Richemont: a cash cow with high operating leverage, but little or no debt.

The risks are:
  1. Its a single brand only, maybe two....Prada and Miu-Miu bags are kind-of similar. More than LV or Gucci, Prada relies on constant updates to get people to buy.
  2. The "Made in China" issue.  Long term, it may threaten the desirability of the brand.  Fashion vs luxury?
  3. Has not been listed for long enough to see how demand is affected during recession.
See how they sales and profits are affected during a recession first.  If I do buy, I must remind myself to buy less, due to 1. and 2.