The plan to build La Perla into a worldwide brand is taking shape.
La Perla has evolved from a traditional family owned lingerie and intimates company to a modern operation seeking to build brand equity since private equity firm JH Partners LLC acquired a 70 percent stake in July 2007. The acquisition of La Perla Group was completed in October when JH Partners purchased the remaining 30 percent held by Nute Partecipazioni, a business operated by the founding Masoti family.
Jeff Hansen, a partner of San Francisco-based JH Partners and managing director of La Perla, said by 2013 he sees the 54-year-old Bologna, Italy-based business as “probably twice as big and profitable as today, with a greater presence in the U.S. and Asia. We’re in the neighborhood of 200 million euros [$158 million] today.”
Hansen, who is based in Bologna, said last December that he planned to streamline operations and refocus efforts on the primary La Perla brands, as well as reposition growth in underpenetrated markets in the U.S. and Asia. An important part of optimizing growth for La Perla is weeding out unproductive lines and cutting overhead costs, he said.
“We started a year ago, rationalizing the brands from 16 to five or six a couple of seasons from now,” Hansen said. “Most of those brands were developed just for the Italian market. And with every brand comes additional people and marketing. When we acquired the company, there were five or six brands that generated profits, and nine or 10 that generated costs.”
Hansen acknowledged the company is looking to lay off several hundred workers, noting the cuts are “only related to Italy and are part of a planned reorganization that had been in the works months before the recent economic turmoil.
“The goal of this reorganization is to streamline certain operations and position the company for better growth in the future,” he said. “But it takes a couple of years. You can’t just eliminate nine or 10 brands overnight. So, we’ll phase them out over the next two-to-four seasons and slowly transition customers in Italy onto other brands. In fact, we find our partners in Europe are much more excited long term because they say the number of brands is confusing to the consumer.”
In addition to La Perla, the group’s portfolio includes La Perla Black Label, La Perla Prêt à Porter, La Perla Studio, La Perla Glamour, Malizia by La Perla, Joelle by La Perla, Occhi Verdi, La Perla Mare, AnnaClub by La Perla, Aquasuit, Grigioperla and Grigiosport for men.
Although the portfolio is getting an overhaul, the company will be adding corsetry, lingerie and beachwear to a top-performing sleepwear brand, Joelle by La Perla, and will spin off a new brand for the Malizia customer, a woman who “shops Victoria’s Secret, but when she turns 25, has more money to spend and wants something else,” Hansen said.
“It will be a newly created brand for the U.S. market, will be targeted to a younger consumer and it will be Malizia product,” Hansen said. “It will be introduced in the U.S. for fall-winter ’09 with a big marketing campaign that will include a fragrance. The Malizia name will be phased out in Europe.”
Suzanne Biszantz, chief executive officer of La Perla North America, said one of the biggest challenges in the U.S. is “defining future strategic opportunities among the brand portfolio that best aligns with the sales opportunity in the North American market.”
She outlined two strategies:
• A “balanced approach” between wholesale, retail and e-commerce, underscored by the relaunch of laperla.com in April. The Web site was designed by CreateThe, which also designed sites for Gucci, Fendi, Burberry, Ferragamo, Bottega Veneta, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs and Frette, which JH Partners also owns.
• A focus on improving operational performance, including replenishment programs for spring 2009.
“We have to be careful…and keep inventories under control in what will be a challenging year next year in luxury goods,” Biszantz said. “Our current year in North America is trending toward 5 to 10 percent sales growth, so I don’t feel it’s been such a horrible situation,” said Biszantz, referring to the tough economy.
She added that a main strategy will be to “reach the luxury consumer who looks at La Perla as a fashion brand, someone who shops Dennis Basso [furs] and wants luxury lingerie.”
Key categories slated for growth are women’s swimwear and bridal lingerie, which Biszantz described as a “long-term strategy.”
“We’ll be launching a bridal lingerie, corsetry and sleepwear collection in late spring ’09,” Biszantz said. “In Europe, the La Perla Mare brand for swimwear is very strong and we want to bring it to the U.S. We already started with a fashion week event [in September]. We feel that swimwear has been underdeveloped here. For holiday, we’ll be sending out mailers with great photography of three must-have swimwear items to 15,200 consumers. For Valentine’s Day, we’ll be sending out mailers with four lingerie looks.”
The mailers, which will be distributed two to three times a year, as well as the fall-winter 2008 and spring-summer 2009 ad campaign, feature visuals photographed by Michelangelo di Battista with model Masha Novoselova.
The bridal collection of silk and exclusive La Perla laces will retail at prices similar to the upscale La Perla line: bras will sell for $225 to $300, undies will be $80 to $120, and long sleep gowns and robes will average $500 to $700.
Biszantz noted that the company plans to expand the number of La Perla boutiques in 2009 in the U.S. It operates 10 full-price boutiques, the newest of which opened in May at the Borgata Water Club in Atlantic City, N.J.
“We are looking at [more store] options, and are investing and upgrading the existing 10 U.S. stores to include redesign of interiors,” said Biszantz, adding that a major initiative this fall has been cocktail and shopping events at La Perla boutiques in Chicago, Beverly Hills, Boston, and the flagship in New York, which team up with charitable organizations.
La Perla operates 78 boutiques worldwide and is available at around 3,000 multibrand stores.
“What he has done at Vuitton is really exceptional,” said @gameofthrones’ actress Gwendoline Christie on @mrkimjones’ final show for @louisvuitton. “He has rebooted luxury in terms of making it commercial, viable and contemporary. And most importantly artistic. He has never compromised his artistic vision for the sake of commodity.” (📷: @zefashioninsider)
After seeing a demand for men’s wear from its customers, British contemporary women’s wear label @ariesarise has added a men’s wear component and will launch a unisex collection with @mrporterlive. The 20-piece collection includes jackets, denim, logo T-shirts and more with deconstructed ‘90s vibes. Set to launch on January 18, you can shop the pieces on Aries’ website and on mrporter.com. #wwdfashion
“And so spending so much time with a character who thinks like that, inevitability you try and analyze yourself and go back and think about your own demons and dark chapters that you had in your life,” says @thedanielbruhl of his role in TNT’s “The Alienist.” The show, set in the Gilded Age of New York, also stars Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans. Head to WWD.com to read about how 39-year-old Brühl prepared for the role and why he thinks the show is so relevant to today #wwdeye ( 📷: @Eriktanner)
Now that Celine Dion’s collection has topped $10 million in sales, the pop superstar, fashion icon and newly-minted industry player is eyeing growth in Asia. Read the full report by @tiffanyap, link in bio. #wwdnews #celinedion
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
Among the familiar faces at @off____white’s show was a surprise figure: Japanese artist @takashipom, pictured here on Wednesday morning. Other show-goers included @jerrylorenzo, who spoke about his upcoming project: a @nike collaboration for back to school, with designs inspired by his childhood on the West Coast. Sitting in the front row were Future, Don Crawley, @miguel and more. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: Stephane Feugere)
According to @laurentsai, former “Terrace House: Aloha State” cast member, she didn’t know she was auditioning for the Japanese version of “Real World.” “I was telling a couple of my friends and someone’s like, ‘That sounds a lot like Terrace House.’ I was like, ’No it can’t be.’” Turns out, it was. But Tsai isn’t just a reality star — she’s an illustrator who has worked with Starbucks Japan and most recently, she’s dipping her toes into the fashion world. Head to WWD.com to read about her time on the show, modeling and her art. #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
More changes are coming to New York Fashion Week: Beginning with the spring 2019 collection, @alexanderwangny will move his New York show to June from September, adopting a biannual schedule with collections shown in June and December. Additionally, the @cfda is planning for an official summer/winter fashion season taking place as soon as June and December 2018. Read more about the upcoming changes on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @slovekinpics)