MILAN – Safilo Group SpA is looking for a white knight.
Safilo’s majority shareholder Only 3T SpA said it was weighing ideas “to strengthen and develop” the debt-ridden Italian eyewear firm and that it had contacted “a few potential partners.”
“The shareholder specifies that the situation is in a negotiation phase and that no agreement has been reached at this time,” Only 3T stated.
Safilo chief executive officer Roberto Vedovotto, who rejoined the firm in November, is said to be working on a turnaround plan, which could see an international private equity fund taking a stake in a new holding entity for Safilo and delisting Safilo from the Milan Bourse.
Suitors reportedly include Bain Capital, Apax Partners and CVC Capital Partners. Neither Bain nor Apax returned calls seeking comment, while CVC declined to comment.
The Tabacchi family controls just under 40 percent of Safilo via Only 3T.
Discretionary spending on designer eyewear is expected to contract sharply this year and Safilo, which has licenses with Giorgio Armani, Dior, Gucci and Valentino among others, is under pressure due to net debts, which could total 580 million euros, or $753.8 million, by the end of fiscal 2008, according to Deutsche Bank.
On Monday, the eyewear firm said it planned to shutter all four of its manufacturing plants in Italy on a rotating basis over the next two months, following a rapid slowdown in demand for designer frames.
The government-sponsored closures, which are temporary, will be staggered through Mar. 28 and could affect up to 2,700 staffers. The first factory suspension went into effect last week.
Monday’s decision follows a similar move by eyewear rival Luxottica Group SpA, which said earlier this month it would close six manufacturing plants for two days in January and two days in February, following disappointing fourth-quarter sales. The closures will affect 6,000 Luxottica staffers in northern Italy.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast