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La Perla Being Spun Into Worldwide Brand

La Perla is expanding its global reach as a luxury brand.

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La Perla is expanding its global reach as a luxury brand.

With San Francisco-based JH Partners’ acquisition of the $270 million Italian lingerie and fashion group in July, a set of new strategies are being implemented to bolster La Perla’s presence worldwide, particularly in the U.S. and Asia.

Jeffrey H. Hansen, chief executive officer of La Perla and a principal of JH Partners, who is living in Italy to help develop and grow Bologna, Italy-based La Perla, said, “We are streamlining our operations, refocusing our efforts on the primary La Perla brands and refocusing growth in underpenetrated markets like the U.S. and the Far East.”

JH Partners is a private equity firm that specializes in investing in growth-oriented businesses with sustainable competitive advantages and revenues. The company has invested about $500 million since launching in 1986 and is now investing a $350 million fund that was raised in 2006.

Assessing the outlook for La Perla, Hansen said: “We will be nicely profitable in 2008, allowing us to invest more heavily in our future. A more focused brand strategy will improve our competitiveness in the market.”

By 2013, Hanson said he foresees La Perla as “considerably bigger and more profitable with much greater presence in the U.S. and the Far East, and still focused on our core offering of lingerie [and] beachwear, but pursuing additional extension [category] opportunities.”

In addition to La Perla, the portfolio of brands include Malitzia, Black Label by La Perla, Marvel, La Perla Mare swimwear, La Perla Prêt à Porter and men’s underwear by GrigioPerla. La Perla operates 63 boutiques worldwide, including nine in the U.S., along with two outlets. The brand is also sold online at saks.com, where La Perla has had strong business, said Amy O’Conner, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of Saks Direct, who was at the La Perla Legacy party in Manhattan on Thursday.

The theme of the cocktail party, which drew some 300 guests to the La Perla store on Madison Avenue, focused on vintage La Perla lingerie displayed on models, as well as window and in-store displays of items that included four decades: the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. The theme celebrated La Perla’s 60-year heritage of sophisticated and sexy lingerie.

Alberto Masotti, chairman of La Perla, whose family owned the company, said, “La Perla has the potential for very significant global expansion. In my opinion, this growth is possible in both the U.S. and Europe, which have consolidated wealth and a capacity for consumption, as well as developing countries that perceive La Perla as a unique product of excellent quality. La Perla will be able to achieve these positive results as it continues to adhere to its founding values of quality, perfect fit and the uniqueness of image. The relationship with JH Partners will give La Perla very important support in terms of organizational restructuring and a pragmatic approach to the industrial process.”

Masotti continues to oversee the business with his wife, Olga, who remains on the board, and daughter, Anna, design coordinator.

“The meeting with JH Partners has undoubtedly been a very interesting experience for me,” Masotti said. “The vision and philosophy of a brand like La Perla, with 60 years of history, has been managed like a family company. Since it’s creation by its founder, Ada Masotti, La Perla has been marked by a continuity, run by myself, my wife and daughter.”

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