MILAN — La Perla has appointed Alain Prost as its new chief executive officer, effective April 20.

This story first appeared in the March 12, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The appointment confirms a report on Wednesday. Prost succeeds current ceo Jeff Hansen, who will assume the role of president. Hansen is a partner of La Perla’s new owner, San Francisco-based private equity fund JH Partners LLC, which is focused on a reorganization and relaunch of the luxury innerwear, beachwear, apparel and accessories brand.

For the past five years Prost has been general manager of intimate apparel firm Chantelle Group. Prior to that, the executive worked for 20 years at L’Oréal.

Hansen said he will continue to be involved in La Perla and that, despite the economy, he was “encouraged as ever” by its prospects. While not divulging figures, the statement said La Perla’s new owners have successfully turned around the company, taking it from operating losses to a profit in 2008 and expecting an increase in profit in 2009.

La Perla, based in Bologna, plans to bring its production entirely in-house to focus on Made-in-Italy manufacturing. In December, La Perla signed a licensing agreement with Mariella Burani Fashion Group for the production and distribution of its ready-to-wear line, which had been produced in-house for more than 10 years. A new creative director replacing Alessandro Dell’Acqua, whose contract expired with the spring season, is expected to be announced soon.

To streamline operations, La Perla said in October it would shed 365 jobs at its headquarters in Bologna, but, in December, Italian trade unions and JH Partners reached an agreement under which government funds will pay about 70 percent of 250 workers’ salaries for a two-year period.

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