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Benetton Group S.p.A. is a global fashion brand, based in Treviso, Italy. The name comes from the Benetton family who founded the company in 1965. Benetton Group is listed in Milan ().
Benetton has a network of around 6,200 stores in 120 countries. The stores are managed by independent partners and generate a revenue of over €2 billion per year.
In 1955, Luciano Benetton, the eldest of four children, was a 30-year-old salesman in Treviso. He saw a market for colourful clothes, and sold a younger brother's bicycle in order to buy his first second-hand knitting machine. His initial small collection of sweaters received a positive response in local stores in the Veneto region, and soon after he asked his sister and two younger brothers, Gilberto and Carlo, to join him. In 1965, the entity known as the "Benetton Group" is formed.
[[http://www.benettongroup.com/en/whoweare/history.htm Timeline of the Benetton Group] Benetton Group Official Webpage]
In 1966, the Benettons opened their first store in Belluno and three years after in Paris, with Luciano as chairman, his brother Gilberto in charge of administration, their younger brother Carlo running production, and Giuliana as a chief designer.
The company's core business remains their clothing lines. Casual clothing is marketed as the "United Colors of Benetton"; there are also a fashion-oriented "Sisley" division, "Playlife" leisurewear. Their products include womenswear, menswear, childrenswear and underwear and they have expanded into toiletries, perfumes, and items for the home such as kitchen accessories and baby products.
United Colors of Benetton in Prague, Czech republic
By the year 2000, the group was selling 150 million garments worldwide, annually in 6,200 stores and many countries.
The company is known for sponsorship of a number of sports, and for the provocative and original "United Colors" publicity campaign. The latter originated when photographer Oliviero Toscani was given ''carte blanche'' by the Benetton management. Under Toscani's direction, ads were created that contained striking images unrelated to any actual products being sold by the company.
These graphic, billboard sized ads included depictions of a variety of 'shocking' subjects such as a deathbed scene of a man (AIDS activist David Kirby) dying from AIDS, a bloodied, unwashed newborn baby with umbilical cord still attached, two horses mating, close-up pictures of tattoos reading "HIV Positive" on the bodies of men and women, a collage consisting of genitals of persons of various races, a priest and nun about to engage in a romantic kiss, pictures of inmates on death row, and picture of bloodied, shot up pants and t-shirt of a soldier killed in Bosnian War. The company's logo served as the only text accompanying the images in most of these advertisements.
Benetton Group entered Formula One as a sponsor of Tyrrell in , then Alfa Romeo in ; this arrangement was extended to both Alfa and Toleman in . Benetton Formula Ltd. was formed at the end of 1985 when the Toleman and Spirit teams were sold to the Benetton family. The team saw its greatest success under Flavio Briatore, who managed the team from to . Michael Schumacher won his first Drivers' Championships with the team in and , and the team won their only Constructors' title in 1995. From , the team raced under an Italian licence although it continued to be based, like Toleman, in Oxfordshire in England. The team was bought by Renault for US$120m in and was rebranded Renault F1.
In 1979 Benetton first sponsored their (then amateur) local rugby team, A.S. Rugby Treviso. Benetton Rugby has since become a major force in Italian rugby, with 11 league titles and supplying many players to the national team.
In 1982 the company bought its local basketball team, Pallacanestro Treviso, now commonly known as Benetton Basket. Their Sisley brand sponsors the local volleyball team, Sisley Volley Treviso.
Benetton has faced criticism from Mapuche organizations, over its purchase of traditional Mapuche lands in Patagonia. The Curiñanco-Nahuelquir family was evicted from their land in 2002 following Benetton's claim to it, but the land was restored in 2007.
See also Benetton’s position regarding the Mapuche in Patagonia.
Benetton aroused suspicion when they considered using RFID tracking chips on clothes to monitor inventory. A boycott site alleges the tracking chips "can be read from a distance and used to monitor the people wearing them." Issues of consumer privacy were raised and the plan was shelved.
See also Benetton’s position on RFID technology.
PETA launched a boycott campaign against Benetton for buying wool from farmers who practiced mulesing. Benetton has since agreed to buy nonmulesed wool and has further urged the wool industry to adopt the PETA and Australian Wool Growers Association agreement to end mulesing.
See also Benetton’s position regarding the controversy on mulesing between the Australian Wool Industry and PETA.
Benetton achieved 983 million euro in sales of its brand “United Colors of Benetton Adult”, that is 50 % of the total sales in 2008. Another 30 % of sales have been achieved through sales of the brand “United Colors of Benetton Kids”, that is 589 million euro. The third highest percentage of 18 %, that is 358 million euro grossed the brand “Sisley”. The brand “Playlife” grossed 43 million euro.
Since 1994 the Benetton Group has financed a communication research centre in Treviso. The centre aims to combine culture with industry and offers young people the opportunity for creative growth and multicultural interchange. The centre accepts young people from around the world, and its base was restored and enlarged by Tadao Ando.
Young artists and designers are invited to the centre and given a on-year study grant together with professional training and resources. Residents work in the areas of design, visual communication, photography, interaction, video, music and publishing under the guidance of experts.