Co-founder United Colors of Benetton dies at 77

Picture of a Benetton store

Gilberto Benetton, one of the founders of Italian clothing retailer United Colors of Benetton, has died at the age of 77 after a short illness. 


Mastermind and saviour

Gilberto Benetton founded the eponymous company in 1965 with brothers Luciano, Carlo and sister Giuliana. In the 1980”s and 1990’s the company was known for its provocative campaigns, highlighting social themes such as diversity, racism and sexism. Only last year, he took back control of the company to try to return it to its former glory after management allegedly turned a 155 million euro capital in 2008 into a 2016 loss of 81 million euro. Sister Giuliana started designing the iconic sweaters again.


Gilberto was considered the mastermind behind the family holding's diversification into catering, construction and transport: Autogrill and Rome's airports are part of the family’s empire. He also faced the risks however: as head of Edizione, Gilberto was the only member of the family on the board of Italy’s largest infrastructure company. After a bridge in Genoa collapsed in August, killing 43 people, he faced a major company crisis. 


In a statement, chairman Fabio Cerchiai and CEO Giovanni Castellucci say they "share the family's pain". It proves to be a painful year for the family, as his brother Carlo died just three months ago.