By  on September 22, 2006

BERLIN — In an 11th-hour agreement, Miro Radici AG of Bergkamen, Germany, has taken over the Steilmann Group, saving the German apparel company from bankruptcy.

On Wednesday evening, German press reports said Steilmann was filing for bankruptcy following the collapse of talks with a prospective investor, widely thought to be the German subsidiary of the Bergamo-based Radici Group. In 2003, Miro Radici AG bought several Steilmann companies, including Apanage, Kirsten, Nienhaus & Lotz and Dressmaster, which effectively cut Steilmann's business in half.

Details of the agreement were not released, and the final contract reportedly still has to be worked out. Officials of both companies were unavailable for comment Thursday.

Once Germany's largest women's wear manufacturer, the Steilmann Group generated sales of almost 900 million euros, or $1.1 billion, in its heyday. All dollar figures are converted from the euro at current exchange rates. In 2004, the company forecast sales of 170 million euros to 180 million euros, or about $216 million to $229 million. More recent figures were not available.

Founded in 1958, the Bochum-Wattenscheid-based group has faced mounting problems in the last decade. In the Nineties, the private label specialist was hard hit by soft market conditions, first at home and then in other markets, as well as by increased global competition. Frequent management changes plagued the firm after founder Klaus Steilmann officially retired in 1999, and revenues have continued to shrink despite restructuring and cost-cutting measures.

Miro Radici AG operates fashion, home textiles and retail operations in Germany. The parent is a leading manufacturer of weaving machines (Iltema Group), carpets (Radici Pietro Industries & Brands) and carpet yarns and threads, and runs fashion factory outlets, as well.

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