Benetton Sets Layoffs

The company has initiated a restructuring across all company brands designed to support the relaunch of its business.

MILAN — Benetton Group has initiated a restructuring across all company brands designed to support the relaunch of its business.

As a result, the Ponzano Veneto, Italy-based group will lay off 450 employees, of whom 228 will be in Italy, working in development and production. Talks with Italian unions are scheduled over the next few weeks. However, by the end of March, Benetton will hire 280 individuals to boost its retail division. The company employs more than 10,000 people worldwide.

“We are strengthening our structure to grow, and we are evaluating which areas of the group must be changed,” said a company spokesman. He explained that Benetton is looking to boost its retail division, which “does not mean additional stores but investments in size, in-store merchandising and stronger service, for example, to further build our relations with customers.”

The spokesman said Benetton is a “retail organization that is too connected to manufacturing,” citing as an example how accessories are developed in-house. “Time to market is challenging this way,” he said.

In May of last year, Benetton’s parent company, Edizione Srl, delisted the fashion company from the Italian Stock Exchange. A month earlier, Luciano Benetton, cofounder and chairman of Benetton Group, passed the baton to his son, Alessandro, after 47 years at the helm of the company.

The Italian textile and clothing manufacturer and retailer, which in 2011 posted revenues of 2.03 billion euros, or $2.82 billion, has been battling changing consumer tastes, rising raw material costs and the weak economies of Europe, especially Italy, its largest market. The company is aiming to expand its business in markets that are growing, such as India, Russia, Turkey, Central America, China, Korea and Taiwan. The group has a network of about 6,500 stores in 120 countries.

In terms of product, Benetton tapped former Levi’s vice president of global merchandising and design You Nguyen in 2011 as chief merchandising officer and creative director.