MILAN — Yet another Italian company is changing hands.
The Bologna, Italy-based BVM firm, which produces the Les Copains brand, is negotiating a sale to Super Srl, owned by the Zambelli family. The latter is also the owner of Bruno’s, a knitwear company based in the town of San Giovanni in Persiceto, near Bologna, and a longtime BVM supplier. Bruno’s also produces its own brand Heritage.
“BVM went into liquidation in July, after years of navigating a crisis, and the heirs of the founder were not planning to carry on with the business,” Maria Teresa Ruffo, a representative of the CGIL union in Bologna, told WWD. “This is a delicate phase of the procedure, but the sale is becoming a reality.” The unions, said Ruffo, have reached an agreement with all the parties involved. “The buyer would hire 43 out of the 75 employees,” she said, expecting the deal to take place by the end of September. The agreement has also put an end to recent strikes at the company, Ruffo said. Financial details of the sale are unknown. Ruffo underscored that Zambelli’s intention is to continue to produce the Les Copains label.
As reported, BVM founder and owner Mario Bandiera died last October at age 87. Bandiera started his entrepreneurial activity in the Fifties, producing knitwear for the German market. He launched Les Copains in 1958, a collection developed around fine cashmere knitwear. He drew his inspiration for the brand’s name from a French radio program popular at the time called “Salut les Copains.”
His wife, Stefania Bandiera, was for some years in charge of the creative design of the brand, but, previously, Les Copains worked with designers such as Antonio Marras, Antonio Berardi, Albino d’Amato, Alessandro Dell’Acqua and Graeme Black. BVM has also produced Giambattista Valli’s namesake line for years.
Sources say BVM USA would also be sold to Super and this includes 16 stores, mainly at Saks Fifth Avenue.
After the sale in July of the Roberto Cavalli brand to Vision Investment Co. LLC, controlled by Hussain Sajwani, founder and chairman of the Dubai-based Damac Properties Group, and Trussardi to Quattro R Asset Management Co. earlier this year, a number of Italian companies are facing generational changes or need additional financial resources to be able to compete with the industry’s fashion giants.
As reported, there’s little sign M&A deals will slow in the second half of 2019 after a “boom” last year and a significant increase in transactions in 2019 so far, with Europe leading in terms of sheer numbers, according to the Deloitte Global Fashion & Luxury Private Equity and Investors Survey 2019. The study also underscores that investors continue to be optimistic despite worries over a possible global economic slowdown, believing the luxury market will grow between 5 and 10 percent a year.