MILAN — Who will invest in Roberto Cavalli and how?
These questions sparked unions Filctem Cgil and Femca Cisl to issue a note on Friday to express concern about the future of the company’s workers and the production sites in Sesto Fiorentino, outside Florence, and Milan.
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen a strong restructuring and the closure of stores, changes in ownership, designers and managers, and we are worried about the future of the employees,” Mirko Zacchei, member of trade union Cisl, told WWD. “We’ve been asking for a meeting with the owners [investment fund Clessidra SGR], but it’s been pushed back again and again and there is a cloud of mystery that is incredible. Now we’ve been asked us to wait until a board meeting to be held on March 13 — unless that is postponed, too.”
Zacchei said the brand remains “strong” and the unions know there is interest in buying the company, but the unions are asking to be informed about possible future industrial plans. “We don’t want to see the company being split up. The idea was to leave Sesto Fiorentino and move to the center of Florence, which would mean losing the production platform, and this worries us. We don’t want to find out what will happen after things have been decided. In Sesto, we’ve already lost some employees to outside labs. This uncertainty cannot go on,” Zacchei added.
The note issued on Friday is part of an effort to raise the awareness of the institutions. “It is necessary to take all possible actions to defend an important reality of our territory, to work in a common and clear way on a company that today employs more than 270 people, almost all in Florence.” The unions vowed to intensify actions barring a concrete response to their demands.
Clessidra on Friday did not comment on the issue.
Chief executive officer Gian Giacomo Ferraris has spearheaded the turnaround of Cavalli since his arrival in May 2016 and the brand is designed by Paul Surridge.
In 2016, the company parted ways with its former creative director Peter Dundas and revealed plans for a drastic reorganization that would result in the cutting of almost 30 percent of its workforce.
With the goal to streamline its company structure, Cavalli closed its Milan corporate and design offices and transferred all functions to Osmannoro, Florence. Production and logistics were rationalized and a number of stores were closed or relocated.
As reported, designer Philipp Plein is rumored to be especially keen to take control of the brand and eyeing to overhaul it, leaving his own mark on the label. In addition to his own namesake brand, which marks 20 years in business in 2019, the designer controls Plein Sport and Billionaire.
Sources said an international fund based in the U.S. was also interested in the brand and on Friday sources identified it as being Blue Star Alliance, which has investments in Tahari, Bebe and Catherine Malandrino. According to its web site, “the firm’s investment mandate is to identify and purchase consumer brand companies where it can leverage the brand equity and expand its current categories to a broader consumer base. To facilitate the overall strategy Bluestar relies on their branding/marketing knowledge, extensive relationships with retail management, strategic partnerships and brand licensing manufacturing entities.”
Clessidra took control of Cavalli in 2015, but has been looking to exit the fashion business, according to sources. In May 2016, Italmobiliare SpA, the publicly listed investment group owned by the Pesenti family took control of Clessidra for roughly 20 million euros. Italmobiliare holds and manages a diversified portfolio of investments and equity interests worth more than 2 billion euros.