EXCLUSIVE: Feroce Cuts a Big Deal for BENRUS

Tuesday, May 09, 2017
GoLocalProv Business Team

Giovanni Feroce, CEO of BENRUS
The control of lifestyle brand BENRUS is now resolved.

Giovanni Feroce, the CEO of BENRUS, has been snarled in a number of legal battles in recent months, the biggest of which - the control of BENRUS trademarks - has been resolved. 

Documents filed on Friday in Delaware courts show the end to the legal fight through a settlement.

“We can now move forward with our business plan with great confidence, with our new products and initiatives, and grow sales of our existing lines,” said Feroce on Sunday night from Los Angeles. 

About the Battle

The lawsuit filed in December of 2016 by Feroce’s BENRUS in a Delaware court alleged that Bernie Mermelstein and two New York companies tied to Mermelstein defrauded Feroce, breached contracts, delivered defective goods, made misrepresentation, and breached the contract, among the many claims filed. And, there were a plethora of counterclaims by Mermelstein. Counter claims were made that put Feroce's control into question. Now, all these issues are resolved.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Feroce, who helped Carolyn Rafaelian drive sales at Alex and Ani from $1 million to more than $300 million in four years, BENRUS was to be his second act. His goal was to take an old World War II watch company and transform it into a mega-lifestyle brand. However, the last several years have been littered with a number of business and legal disputes. This conflict with Mermelstein posed the biggest threat.

Now, with the trademark issues resolved, Feroce is refocusing the company.

BENRUS Showroom
Focus on Selling and New York

Now, Feroce says BENRUS is focused on selling.

“New York is the center of the fashion universe.  We are an accessories company first and foremost and we need to be able to sell our wares in an efficient and direct manner to our retail partners.  Additionally, as you know, I am very active in the world of high finance and need to be vigilant about positioning our story to the financial partners that will ultimately drive our growth,” said Feroce.

"When we originally launched in 2014, we inherited a New York City showroom, however, it was not economically feasible to maintain that as we were focused on our design and product development efforts here in Providence,” said Feroce. “Now, we are in the selling stage, it is important to be positioned in a location that will maximize our selling efforts, such as Market Week in New York, etc." 

BENRUS watch
In addition, Feroce has closed the Providence showroom.  “We never had a retail store in Providence, we just displayed our wares in a showroom fashion in our offices. The fact is retail and business in general needs to adapt to the changing landscape of the B2B and B2C customers.  Virtual offices and flexibility rule in today's business world.  We are also proud to manage overhead in a responsible manner, and that means not ignoring the opportunity to cut costs and save money,” said Feroce.

While BENRUS’ recent history has been bumpy, Feroce is excited about the future. “I am extremely proud of my partners and could not have done any of this without them. We continue to prosper because we understand that success will come to those that have the vision of what their business needs to look like four to five years down the road and makes the changes now in order to meet that vision.”

On the political front, Feroce continues to be mentioned as a potential Republican candidate for Governor in Rhode Island in 2018.  

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