RI PowerPlayer: Giovanni Feroce
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
BENRUS, the Rhode Island-based lifestyle brand.
Tell us a bit about how you got involved with BENRUS.
I first established my investment firm GF Asset Management. Out of the numerous opportunities presented to me I chose to resurrect an iconic American brand; BENRUS. Its appeal was broad, based on its unique military history and contribution during wartime to its recognition as an economic powerhouse for most of the last century. The effort will not be easy but our goal of transitioning it from only a watch company to a successful lifestyle brand in the fashion industry will be key to an economic recovery in Rhode Island.
Last year, you said that you ultimately want to manufacture everything in the US, but realistically that would take a while to accomplish. Where are you in that process?
We have successfully gone from 0% to about 60% of our product categories being made in America. We will continue to try our best to work with vendors in the United States. Our country needs to get serious about reinvesting in our manufacturing infrastructure.
Yes, we are expanding daily and we have more than doubled that number just this month alone. Our wholesale sector is expected to be half of our overall business, so we are dedicated to opening new accounts. We opened our first retail store in Rochester, New York at the Culver Road Armory. We are opening up our second store in Charleston, South Carolina this spring/summer, which will be our flagship store. We plan to open about five retail stores by the end of 2015."
What have been the some of the major obstacles you have faced in bringing BENRUS to where it is now?
Product development by far is our biggest challenge. It takes professionals, money, and patience to successfully navigate this process.
What is your favorite thing to do in Providence?
To watch a Providence Sky Chiefs basketball game, of course. In addition, I obviously enjoy our great restaurants, the arts and of course, the nightlife.
I really don’t have time to read books. The fact is that I operate at battlefield speed so what best suits me is to continually read articles about issues impacting our economy. It’s that overall view and constant vigilance that provides me comfort that I am leading the way in how to manage business and market our brand successfully.
Do you have a favorite Rhode Island restaurant?
My favorite restaurant in Rhode Island is Besos located in East Greenwich. The ownership clearly focuses on quality food, great atmosphere and superior service and I’m also proud to call them friends.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I love the United States best and I still have a lot to explore within our own great country.
Related Slideshow: Take a Tour of BENRUS’ First Store in Rochester
The first BENRUS store is now open in Rochester, New York.
More stores are scheduled to open, including Newport, RI.
Take a look at the interior design of BENRUS' first store in Rochester, NY.
The 1st store opened last week at the Culver Road Armory.
The lifestyle brand has launched a complete line of jeans for men and women. Soon to be available both online and at retail locations.
True to the BENRUS brand legacy, the company's collection of watches are featured in the new retail store.
The legacy of watch-making goes back to the early part of the 20th Century.
Design, design, design. The BENRUS brand is all about design both in its retail locations and its product.
The Rochester, NY store stands out for design.
The BENRUS brand is launching a complete line of premium men's shirts. Many of them are available at the online store.
Giovanni Feroce - the former CEO of Alex and Ani is trying to make lightning strike twice in building BENRUS into another successful lifestyle company in Rhode Island.
As GoLocal previously reported:
Giovanni Feroce, who teamed with Carolyn Rafaelian to grow Alex and Ani from sales of $4 million to more than a reported $220 million in 4 years, then left the company, is now back with a new venture - BENRUS. The BENRUS company has a rich legacy as a military watch company, but under Feroce the company is being built into a broader lifestyle brand.
Feroce describes the acquisition as a multi-million dollar transaction.
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