The Benetton Empire
Benetton in Europe and Latin America
The Italian family Benetton from Treviso, Italy, established the Benetton Group in 1965. Today it owns an empire that includes 15 factories, 6,000 retail outlets in 120 countries and sales that exceed $2 Billion annually. However, the Benetton fortune does not only sustain itself through its activities in the fashion sector. Through Edizione Holding, a group of financial companies, it controls other companies, including 37% of Autostrade S.p.A., with a net worth of $12,000 Million and Autogrill, which is worth nearly $2,000 Million.
The Benetton family will be the majority individual shareholder in the company formed by a merger with Abertis. The new company will be better situated to acquire highways and airports that can be privatized. It will manage 6,713 kilometers of highway in Europe and the United States, and also operate 13 airports in cities such as London, Orlando and Stockholm.
The Autogrill empire, in which the Benetton group controls a 67% stake, has operations in 15 countries in 4 continents, with 4,000 retail outlets in airports, train stations, highways and malls. Autogrill has a total or partial control in the following companies: Acafé, Aliente, Burger King, Chili’s Too, Ciao, Cinnabon, Coté France, CPK Asap, Daily News, Dunkin Donuts, Expedia.com Café, Fox Sports, Haagen-Dazs, José Quervo Tequileria, KFC Express, La Galleria, Market, Pains à ligne, Passaggio, Pizza Hut, Roots, Sbarro, Simply Books, Snack Bar, Spizzico, Sporting Eyes, Starbucks Coffee, TCBY, The Cheesecake Factory, Toilette Longue, and Wolfgang Puck.
On March 21 of 2005, the Italian multinational Benetton, through its interest in Autogrill, took control of the Spanish firm Aldeasa, a duty free company with retail outlets in Spain and Portugal, in addition to most Latin American countries. In this way, the Benetton group forcefully entered the Latin American market, in particular through its control of retail outlets in Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Furthermore, the Benetton Group is a shareholder in TIM, an Italian communications company, which forms part of the larger Telecom Italia group, which also has investments in Brazil and Peru.
The Benetton Group also owns a Formula One racing team and other sports clubs, such as Benetton Basket (Pallacanestro Treviso SPA) and Benetton Rugby Treviso.
Benetton in Argentina
Through its holdings in “Compañía de Tierras del Sud Argentino S.A.”, the Benetton Group is the largest landowner in Argentina, possessing more than 900,000 hectares of land in Patagonia, where more than 270,000 sheep graze. The patrimony of the Benetton Family exceeds a billion dollars and they form part of the exclusive world of magnates on a universal scale… however, in Argentina they refuse to pay property taxes because they consider them too expensive: “In El Maitén, where they have 47 thousand hectares, and in Epuyén, where they are owners of more than 20 thousand hectares, they do not pay taxes on their properties because they consider them too expensive”, as Clarín has declared numerous times. They owe 100 thousand pesos to the Municipality of El Maitén and 35 thousand pesos to the Municipality of Epuyén.”
The Mining Interests of the Benetton Empire
“Minera Sud Argentina S.A” was founded on May 9, 2003 for “the acquisition, disposition and transfer of mining properties and rights. Prospecting, exploration, development, preparation, operation, extraction and refining of minerals and by-products.” Apparantly, the president of the brand-new mine is Diego Perazzo, the vice president of “Compañía de Tierras Sud Argentino S.A.” (CTSA), a property of Benetton.
It has been demonstrated that the area from which the Mapuche family Curiñanco- Nahuelquir was evicted in October 2002, was surrounded by at least 15 mining explorations, and that possibly their interest in mining gold was behind the eviction of the couple originally from Esquel.
The Benetton Scandals
Benetton changes positions like a chameleon changes color. On the one hand they promote the notion of a multicultural world and ethnic harmony through their ‘united colors’ propaganda campaign. They present themselves as benefactors to the poor, however where business is concerned, they do not hesitate to remove any impediments to their success.
In addition to the conflict that ended in the eviction of a Mapuche couple from 500 hectares of land and in a trial of the usurpation of land in 2002, Benetton has also found itself involved in other scandals.
Benetton was at the center of a scandal involving the exploitation of children in Turkey in 1998, when children between the ages of 11 and 13 were photographed working in the Bermudas Tekstil factory in Istanbul, a factory that produces merchandise for Benetton. Turkish law and the International Convention on Labor prohibit children younger than 14 years from working. Benetton suspended its relationship with the Turkish subcontractor after a Turkish syndicate revealed the aforementioned violations.
Benetton found itself involved in new controversy when the Kappa Company, which is partially owned by Benetton, proposed installing a clothing factory in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the late 1990’s. As soon as human rights groups began campaigns against the plan, warning of the violation of international agreements established in the Fourth Geneva Convention with respect to the operation of business in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Kappa abandoned its plan.
In 2003, Benetton had to stop a test of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) labels, because an association of consumers against this type of control (CASPIAN - Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering) launched a boycotting campaign. Benetton abandoned its plans as soon as information was leaked regarding the potential use of the RFID labels for monitoring the movements of its clients.
1- Mucho más que moda para los Benetton
2- Benetton en América latina
3- Benetton Family
4- Luciano Benetton
5- El Grupo Benetton prometió pagar los impuestos, 1999 - Clarín
6- Benetton, un Minero Derecho y Humano
7- Benetton around the world