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Mara Di Giorgio

Mara Di Giorgio, head of investor relations for Italian clothing retailer Benetton Group, is buy-­siders’ choice for 2009 Europe’s Best Investor Relations in Retailing/General.

Head of Investor Relations

Benetton Group

Mara Di GiorgioAs a child of entrepreneurial parents who had a habit of bringing their work home with them, Mara Di Giorgio became fascinated with business and finance at an early age. The family dinner table was often the setting for excited discussion about the economy, her father’s furniture business and her mother’s endeavors in the field of communications.

“When I was young, I didn’t understand what they were talking about, so I was driven by this curiosity and need to understand,” says Di Giorgio, head of investor relations for Italian clothing retailer Benetton Group, buy-­siders’ choice for Europe’s Best Investor Relations in Retailing/General. “Although I actually wanted to become a veterinarian, I studied economics and finance because I became so ­curious.”

Despite a recession-­fueled slowdown in consumer spending, Benetton appears to be holding up relatively well. “They are benefiting from their push into emerging markets,” says Paolo Vincentini, a port­folio manager at London-­based investment bank Edmond de ­Rothschild.

Last year the Treviso, Italy–based company’s revenues rose 3.9 percent, to €2.13 billion ($3 billion), and net income increased 7.1 percent, to €155 million. Nonetheless, the stock has taken a beating, plunging 48.0 percent in 2008 and sliding 19.6 percent year-to-date in 2009, through March 31.

With the global economic environment still so unstable, Di Giorgio understands that analysts and investors are driven by a need to know what is moving stock markets on any given day. When the market swings, she is on the phone “to reassure our shareholders that the volatility is not related to the fundamentals of our business, but to market liquidity or funds’ selling off shares at any price.”

Investors appreciate the com­pany’s openness. “They have been very transparent,” says Vincentini. “Whenever I call the company, I always get investor relations or the CEO available to me.”

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