Les Copains RTW Fall 2019

MILAN — Les Copains has found a new owner.

Confirming a WWD report earlier this month, Super Srl, controlled by the Bologna-based Zambelli family, said it has acquired BVM SpA, founded by Mario Bandiera and owner of the Les Copains brand, also based in the same Italian city.

The transaction will be effective Oct. 1 as regards the corporate and wholesale activities while the acquisition of the retail activities will be effective from Feb. 1, 2020. According to sources, BVM USA was expected to be sold to Super and this includes 16 shop-in-shops, mainly at Saks Fifth Avenue. Financial details were not disclosed.

The Zambelli family also control 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 Heritage, its own brand.

The new company will be helmed by Roberto Zambelli with the goal “to carry on the storied brand in the respect of and in continuity with the entrepreneurial values and vision of quality and innovation,” Super and Les Copains said in a joint statement on Friday.

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 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.

Marco Lombardo, Bologna labor councilor, defined the transaction as the “best solution, which we have always backed.” Referring to Super, he said the company “is part of our territory, of the same textile sector, and capable of guaranteeing employment and continuity for the majority of the workers. Now we expect the storied brand to be relaunched both locally and internationally through product innovation and the quality of the work.” Lombardo also expressed his hope to see “those employees that unfortunately were left out of the new company’s organization to be rehired.”

“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 in September, adding that Super was expected to hire 43 out of the 75 employees. The agreement has also put an end to recent strikes at the company.

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