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Versace Restructuring Plan Approved

Versace to cut 350 jobs, while company ceo Gian Giacomo Ferraris reiterated his priority to reverse last year’s operating loss of 30 million euros.

MILAN — Gian Giacomo Ferraris, chief executive officer of Gianni Versace SPA, said Thursday his extensive restructuring plan has been unanimously approved by the family, the shareholders, the banks and the unions.

Ferraris also unveiled the launch of a new women’s diffusion line called Versace Collection for fall, which is forecast to achieve sales of more than 8 million euros, or $11 million, in the first season.

The reorganization charted by Ferraris in October is aimed at returning the company to profitability in 2011 and includes cutting 350 jobs, or 25 percent of Versace’s worldwide workforce. The layoffs, which are primarily supported by government funds, begin in March and will be staggered through June.

“The plan is based on a 360-degree reorganization and drastic internal measures but it guarantees Versace’s future and independence,” Ferraris contended during an interview at the company’s Via Gesù headquarters.

The executive reiterated his priority to reverse last year’s operating loss of 30 million euros, or $41.8 million. He also confirmed 2010 sales will mirror last year’s revenues of 273 million euros, or $381 million.

The layoffs come after of a streamlining process during which many departments were combined or outsourced. For example, Versace this month shuttered its U.S. communications office, handing its public relations efforts to P.R Consulting.

Ferraris late last year also shuttered the three-year-old Burago accessories plant for greater efficiencies, moving the production into Versace’s historic clothing factory in Novara. “Accessories are key to our growth, and we certainly don’t want to lose market share but we centralized everything into one space rather than having double costs on many fronts,” he said.

On the design front, a recent discussion between Ferraris and Versace resulted in a new diffusion line called Versace Collection that debuted for fall. Priced 30 to 40 percent below the signature collection, the new line is steeped in the house’s well-known codes — color, sexiness, prints and glamour.

Versace Collection melds commercial clout with strong detailing emphasizing simple shapes, be it gold buttons etched with half a Medusa head or press-studded borders.

Key themes for the 230 piece fall lineup are degradè fitted jackets or egg-shaped coats in oatmeal and apricot; herringbone pantsuits cut on the bias; cocktail dresses with lace and tulle insets, and blurry ikat prints in vivid hues used on languid dresses. Ferraris expects 400 salespoints worldwide to pick up Versace Collection.

To hold down costs, production of the line is split between Italy and European countries such as Croatia.