MILAN — Roberto Cavalli employees are not taking the news of the company’s restructuring lying down.
Workers of the troubled Italian fashion group went on strike for eight hours on Friday and a meeting with local politicians and institutions in Osmannoro, near Florence, where the company is based, is scheduled for next week.
On Wednesday, Roberto Cavalli SpA parted ways with creative director Peter Dundas and revealed plans for a drastic reorganization that will result in the cutting of almost 30 percent of its workforce, or about 200 positions out of a total global headcount of 672.
The reorganization of the fashion house, under parent company Clessidra SGR and spearheaded by new chief executive officer Gian Giacomo Ferraris, aims to return the firm to operating profitability in 2018.
With the goal to streamline its company structure, Cavalli will close its Milan corporate and design offices and transfer all functions to Osmannoro. Production and logistics will be rationalized and a number of stores will be closed or relocated.
“The workers are distraught. They are told that there is a centralization in Florence but in reality they fear a downsizing of strategic functions also at the Florence headquarters,” said Bernardo Marasco of workers’ union Filctem Cgil Florence. “We are waiting for the start of the mobility procedure to know the number of potential layoffs. As for us, there is a battle to do and we will do it to defend jobs and the brand on the territory. Mobilization is the response to the company’s plans.”
The Cavalli group had no comment on Friday.
Marasco lamented a “very badly managed reorganization” nine months ago, before Ferraris’ arrival at the end of July, succeeding Renato Semerari, that caused the layoff of 39 employees and the move of the design office to Milan. “So now those 80 workers that left Florence and accepted to move to Milan, looking for a home and perhaps moving their families, should move back again,” he said.
The union is asking Cavalli to revise the strategy to close the Milan headquarters, seen as “strategic” for a fashion company.
Ferraris said upon the announcement of the reorganization that “a company of this size cannot have two separate entities in Milan and Florence,” and that he was looking to optimize synergies. The cuts will involve managers as well as employees in design and product development.
Ferraris said that he expected sales in 2016 to amount to between 155 million and 160 million euros, or $172 million and $177 million at current exchange. The executive underscored that the company had no debt.
The pipeline at the manufacturing plant in Osmannoro ranges from stocking fabrics to design and the development of prototypes, samples and products.
Rumors about potential cuts at Cavalli have been circulating for months. In November 2015, more than 200 workers at the Roberto Cavalli factory in Sesto Fiorentino, in Tuscany, walked the streets of Florence to protest against the company’s decision to open a mobility procedure to cut 66 employees.