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Il Bisonte

Il Bisonte

June 2015

June 2018


Florence, Italy

Italy / Global

Italian leather accessories brand

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Business at time of investment

Founded in 1970 in Florence by Wanny di Filippo, Il Bisonte was one of the few remaining large independent Italian producers of hand-crafted luxury leather handbags and accessories.  It was globally recognised for its artisanal products made from naturally treated, vegetable-tanned leather sourced from Santa Croce sull'Arno in Tuscany. Il Bisonte’s footprint covered 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 had established a particularly strong presence in Japan where its products were sold through a rapidly growing network of more than 30 stores in partnership with listed distributor Look Inc. Its well-known products represent the essence of Italian artisanal spirit and high quality.

Investment rationale

Palamon’s investment in Il Bisonte stemmed 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 that Il Bisonte, an established brand in the fast-growing affordable luxury segment, offered a particularly exciting opportunity for growth through continuing geographic expansion across both developed and emerging markets and improving its distribution capabilities through the retail, wholesale and online channels. The company had the potential to build its infrastructure with an experienced management team and become a large exporter of made in Italy products without losing its traditional, artisanal and local roots.

Value creation

  • Institutionalised management: In 2016, appointed Sofia Ciucchi (ex Salvatore Ferragamo) as CEO, and appointed Giacomo Santucci (former President & CEO at Gucci) as Chairman in 2018.
  • Refined product strategy: Rationalised and modernised product range, without losing history and authenticity.
  • Expanded into new markets: Reset the marketing strategy and developed a presence in well-served and new international markets through wholesale, online and selective retail expansion.
  • Developed online retail channel: Appointed digital team and launched a re-designed website.


During its ownership, Palamon worked to revamp the iconic Il Bisonte brand and pushed international expansion across the US, Europe, the Middle East and Asia including the opening of new directly managed stores in London, New York and Hong Kong. Global points of sale increased from less than 200 to over 400 driving a more than doubling in revenue from €20 million at entry to more than €40 million in 2019, with sales growth accelerating to 30% for the last two years of the hold period.