DIANE IZZO IS TAKING MALTA’S FASHION RETAIL INDUSTRY BY STORM. IN THE SPAN OF A FEW MONTHS SHE HAS EXPANDED HER PORTFOLIO FROM THE HUGELY SUCCESSFUL TERRANOVA TO A WIDE RANGE OF OTHER BRANDS INCLUDING GUESS AND MAX&CO. SHE, TALKS TO THE SUNDAY CIRCLE ABOUT WHAT FASHION MEANS TO HER AND WHAT ELSE SHE’S GOT BREWING ON THE HORIZON
Diane Izzo is not an ostentatious woman. Her low-key style and friendly demeanour could be misleading. She is, in fact, one of Malta’s leading entrepreneurs and has spent the past few months quietly expanding an enormous portfolio of brands and outlets which will soon branch outside of Malta.
Diane opened her company in the year 2000 at the tender age of 21 and has since masterminded its continuous bursts of growth, expanding into areas such as catering and beauty at an early stage. She now employs more than 250 people and is planning even more growth.
“I love fashion and what it means to people. It’s so rewarding to work with top international franchises to bring great clothing to the public,” she says. “My role is to drive this organisation to success, by building strong teams around every project I create. I also need to constantly energise my management teams to make sure we are taking the right decisions at every level of the organisation. That way I can focus on taking the business forward through strategic investment and keeping a close eye on the market.” Her big break came with the Italian fast-fashion brand Terranova which has since mushroomed all over the island and impressed the franchise owners back in Italy
“Terranova signalled my first step in the fashion business 16 years ago and I plan to keep growing the business locally and even internationally,” she says.
Other Terranova outlets are located at Bay Street, Valletta, Santa Venera, Paola and The Point in Sliema, and the plan is to bring them up to date to the megastore concept. Diane also plans to expand her Terranova business overseas in the near future, with the support of the Italian franchise.
Besides Terranova, the entrepreneur is still investing in a number of other brands and stores she developed through the years: Calliope, Liu Jo Donna, Liu Jo Uomo, Make-Up Store, as well as the well-known coffee houses Caffe Pascucci. “We still have big plans for the brands we represent. For example, with Lui Jo Donna, we are in the process of doubling our footprint to allow for more growth,” she says.
Last May, Diane acquired Guess, the American upscale brand, following a deal signed with Halmann Vella Group. The businesswoman is seeing this takeover as a chance to expand the presence of the brand, which has been operating in Malta since 2001.
“This opportunity came along and we immediately pounced on it. Our mission is to revamp the outlets and grow the brand – our target is to double its present turnover in the next three years. We have already set our sights on opening Guess Kids in the near future,” she says.
The takeover includes two clothing and accessories outlets in Bay Street Shopping Complex, St Julian’s, and The Point, in Sliema, as well as an accessories store in Bisazza Street, Sliema. “I’m happy to see the business grow. I’m keeping my feet on the ground and working harder, so that together with my team, we can better the results.”
Diane also acquired other brands from Halmann Vella: the luxury Italian shirt brand 7 Camicie, as well as Brooks Brothers, one of the oldest clothiers in the US. The growth did not stop there. Diane recently also acquired the rights to represent the luxury brand Elisabetta Franchi which are now available in the newly designer concept store in the heart of Bisazza Street Sliema
“We’re delighted to have been entrusted with these two renowned brands, topping our already long of partners,” she says.
The idea was to focus on brands that provide discerning women with outfits that represent quality, excellence and attention to detail. Another brand that fit that bill was MAX&Co. which Diane is finally relaunching in Malta with its own flagship store In the heart of Valletta and due to open in the coming days
MAX&Co., which is part of the Max Mara Fashion Group, is rooted in Italian prêt-à-porter. Its designs are vibrant and stylish, inspired by the spirit of the times and women’s evolving lifestyles.
“MAX&Co is a perfect addition to our eclectic portfolio of brands,” says Ms Izzo.
The impeccable three-storey outlet housing MAX&Co. is located in Republic Street, Valletta. And, instead of stopping at clothes, Diane has also ventured into the catering business with her range of Caffe Pascucci coffee houses. This is an Italian coffee franchise rooted in quality and sustainability, which has been particularly successful in Malta. There are already four Caffe Pascucci outlets spread over Malta (Santa Venera, Bay Street, The Point and Cospicua) but two more are about to open: one in St Julian’s and another in Gżira to be opened by the end of the year.
And, perhaps, it is precisely the excellent organic coffee served by Caffe Pascucci that has given Diane Izzo the energy she needed to build the successful business she can enjoy today.