Mauro Grimaldi, Laudomia Pucci

MILAN – Unions in Florence are calling the Emilio Pucci fashion house out.

According to unions Filctem Cgil, Femca Cisl and Uiltec Uil, the company is asking employees in Florence to either move to Milan or to resign. But a source close to Pucci defined this “a tempest in a teapot.” Pucci is not firing anyone and is discussing individual solutions with each employee, the source stressed.

As reported in October, Pucci plans to transfer its employees from Florence to Milan to create greater efficiency and operational synergy. The manufacturing role in Bologna is expected to remain untouched, while the creative and commercial roles are to be amalgamated in Milan. This will also help creative director Massimo Giorgetti, who is based in Milan. He was tapped by Pucci last year, succeeding Peter Dundas.

At the time, according to a source close to the company, each of the 45 employees based in Florence received an offer to move to Milan and there were no plans to cut jobs.

This week the unions said Pucci offered a transfer to Milan to its 44 employees — and two additional workers who decided to resign — between January and March 2017. “Emilio Pucci must remain in Florence, the brand does not makes sense without Florence because it represents everything that is Florentine,” the unions said in a statement. “We are against the transfer of employees, but, given this is not an option, we have requested better transfer conditions, protections for those who don’t want to move and for those who might perhaps face a trial period.”

The unions said they have been engaged in meetings with the company over the past few weeks at the regional level as well, to discuss the conditions of workers that are either moving or that have not accepted to leave Florence. The unions lamented the fact that Pucci has held individual talks with employees, but the source familiar with the matter said “no collective discussion would have been possible. Two employees resigned, 29 have accepted the move to Milan and Pucci is evaluating how to help the others either offering jobs within [parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton] or proposing financial support, possibly for one year. Pucci would want all of them in Milan, but understands that this may not be acceptable to everybody. Nobody has been fired and nobody will be.”

Unions contend that Pucci had set a deadline on Dec. 7 for employees to decide on their future as the unions were leading to an agreement based on social welfare and economic incentives and that, one hour before the deadline, the company rescinded its offer.

“As of now, those that don’t want to move to Milan have no protection, not even welfare. Practically, they have to resign. It is very serious that the company would require either you move or you resign going back on its word,” said the unions, claiming to be “angry and disappointed” and asking that Pucci “reopen the discussions based on the conditions that were previously set out. We are absolutely surprised that a company that is part of the Vuitton group, attentive to relations with the unions, would act this way.” The unions said they were ready to bring the issue to the Ministry of Economic Development and the head of the LVMH group in Paris.

Laudomia Pucci, daughter of the namesake founder, and the Pucci family continue to own the storied 14th-century Palazzo Pucci in Florence. Laudomia Pucci is image director and a member of the company’s board. According to a source, while conceding that the palazzo may not be for sale, LVMH is considering its acquisition “to turn the palazzo into an important international cultural pole.”

Established in 1947, Emilio Pucci is one of Italy’s storied jet-set brands of the Sixties, synonymous with dazzling prints on silk jersey, which the founder even applied to skiwear early in his career, pioneering a lifestyle approach to fashion.

LVMH acquired the brand in 2002 for 38 million euros, or $35.9 million at average exchange that year, and has experimented with a variety of designers, including Matthew Williamson and Christian Lacroix.

A former Elie Saab executive, Mauro Grimaldi was named Pucci ceo last year.

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