MILAN — Italian eyewear giant Luxottica Group SpA plans to shutter its six manufacturing plants in Italy for four days over the next six weeks, following disappointing fourth-quarter sales. The government-sponsored closures mean around 6,000 staffers in Northern Italy will stay at home on a reduced salary for two days in January and two days in February but still keep their jobs, a Luxottica spokesman said Friday.


Luxottica also has production facilities in California and two factories in China. The spokesman added the eyewear group, which has licenses with Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Versace, among others, did not plan further stoppages this quarter, but that it was “a little early to say with absolute certainty” if that would remain the case for the rest of 2009.


Luxottica met union representatives on Thursday. Luxottica sales suffered in the run up to Christmas as demand slowed in core international markets, the spokesman said. He added that the plant closure decision, while “painful,” was necessary and “a reflection of how serious the state of the global economy is.” Rival Safilo Group SpA is slated to meet unions on Jan. 26 to discuss similar measures for as many as 1,200 employees over two months, a company spokesman said. He declined to comment further.


Large manufacturers in Italy may resort to temporary suspensions of work during times of economic crisis via a special public fund, known as Cassa Integrazione Guadagni, which is financed by the government and protects up to 80 percent of workers’ income over fixed short-term periods.


For complete coverage, see Tuesday’s WWD.