Roberto Cavalli-RTW-Fall-2019

MILAN — Almost 200 employees went on strike at the Roberto Cavalli plant in Sesto Fiorentino, near Florence, on Monday as unions demand to be informed about the future of the company.

This follows the announcement on Friday that Roberto Cavalli SpA’s board had decided to file a restructuring plan with the Court of Milan that would allow it to continue to operate while holding discussions with creditors under the so-called process of “composition with creditors.” On that same evening, all of Cavalli’s stores in the U.S. closed and all 93 employees were let go. The company’s U.S. subsidiary, operating under the ArtFashion Corp. moniker, is filing for Chapter 7 this week, as reported. 

While still concerned about the situation, Mirko Zacchei, a member of trade union Cisl, told WWD that “the positive in all this is that finally we all sat down to talk,” referring to the meeting held by the unions with Cavalli’s president Emiliano Nitti, chief executive officer Gian Giacomo Ferraris, mayor of Sesto Fiorentino Lorenzo Falchi and other municipal and regional officials. “In the past, we’ve seen decisions made unilaterally or communicated once taken, at least now there are collegial discussions. But it’s total darkness about the future,” he cautioned.

That said, Zacchei noted that “on paper, there are still three parties showing interest in buying the company: Bluestar Alliance, Philipp Plein and Renzo Rosso’s OTB, although the American fund seems to be the closest to a deal.” Bluestar Alliance has investments in Tahari, Bebe and Catherine Malandrino.

As reported, the German designer Plein was said to be interested in taking control of the company although he had recently distanced himself from the negotiations. OTB was said to have also been interested and “made contact,” but the company never confirmed any talks or to actually have submitted an offer. OTB is parent of brands Diesel, Maison Margiela, Marni, Paula Cademartori, Viktor & Rolf, Brave Kid and Staff International, which is Just Cavalli’s licensee — a possible reason for OTB to look at the brand.

Zacchei said the company will file its restructuring plan with creditors on Tuesday at the Court of Milan. This will appoint a commissioner who will evaluate the company’s assets and the offers. “A meeting with the commissioner and the adviser [Rotschild] will be scheduled before Easter,” said Zacchei. Last year, Cavalli’s owner Clessidra SGR, tapped Rothschild to find a buyer for a stake in the company, although sources say Clessidra now wants to exit the company entirely as well as the fashion sector.

Zacchei said no additional strike is planned until the next meeting “unless we see things take a turn that would draw ‘sharks’ to take advantage of the situation.”

Production has slowed for the past two to three months but the company is trying to forge ahead. With its licensees, Cavalli will present its new Home collection at the Milan fairgrounds during furniture and design trade show Salone del Mobile, running April 9 to 14. The company will also stage a presentation at its Via Montenapoleone flagship and hold a Fuori Salone [Outside Salone] event.

Cavalli has been boosting its home and interior design collections. Last year, Ferraris unveiled a partnership with Dico International, the strategic investment arm of the Dubai-based Damac property developer, to open its first hotel in 2023 in Dubai and called Aykon — the first of at least five hotels in 10 years. Among others, the executive also inked a partnership agreement with Bin Faqeeh Real Estate Investment Company S.P.C. to exclusively design the interiors of the Eastern Tower at the Waterbay project in Bahrain Bay in the capital of Manama.