MILAN — Angry Valentino employees plan to vote this morning on whether to continue their strike against the company’s parent, Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali (HdP), which they accuse of withholding information about the future of the Rome-based fashion house.
About 100 employees, including members of the administration, designers, seamstresses and secretaries, staged a three-hour protest Friday in front of Valentino’s headquarters in Piazza Mignanelli, demanding answers about the company’s restructuring — and the possibility that staff may be transferred to the northern cities of Milan and Turin.
The fashion house issued a statement late Friday saying, “Valentino, now a part of an integrated textile and apparel group, is studying different options, all of which are aimed at the direct and rapid expansion of the brand on international markets.” It added, however, that it was too early to discuss specific strategies.
Fabio Giombini, Valentino’s new managing director who began work this month, scheduled a meeting with the unions on Sept. 29 to discuss the future of the company. HdP controls Valentino, the Turin-based clothing manufacturer GFT, Fila and RCS publishing, which owns the daily newspaper Corriere della Sera.
On Friday, workers carried banners with slogans accusing Maurizio Romiti, the ceo of HdP and vice-chairman of Valentino, of killing the company: “Tell us, Romiti, what death awaits us!” and “Maurizio, you bought yourself a toy — and now you’re breaking it!”
The strike continued on Monday with employees stopping work every half-hour. A spokeswoman for the UIL union, one of three national unions that represent Valentino employees, said the strike continued through Monday because many employees believe Valentino and HdP are simply delaying by scheduling a meeting at the end of the month.
“It’s been two years since HdP bought Valentino, and we are still getting our information about the future of this house from the newspapers,” the union spokeswoman said. “We know they are restructuring the company, and we’ve heard they may transfer workers to Milan and Turin. We want to know the truth so that we can defend ourselves.”
The process of rebuilding Valentino has been slow mostly because the company’s first managing director, Roland Bohler, resigned last April after just eight months on the job. As a result, Valentino was effectively forced to start planing its strategies from scratch.
HdP purchased Valentino in January 1998 as the first step in what Romiti said would be an aggressive acquisitions strategy aimed at building Italy’s first and largest luxury goods group.
Romiti says he still plans to build that group — with GFT as its industrial foundation — although he’s made no major acquisitions in the luxury goods sector since purchasing Valentino.