BERTELLI HITS BACK: Prada Group ceo Patrizio Bertelli has a bone to pick with Censis, the Italian center that carries out socioeconomic studies and research, which highlights that the net worth of the 10 richest Italian individuals together totals as much as that of 500,000 industrial workers in the country — underscoring how the economic crisis has heightened the discrepancies between the wealthiest and those at the other end of the spectrum. Based on the Forbes World’s Billionaires list for 2013, Bertelli, together with his wife Miuccia Prada, and other fashion giants including Giorgio Armani, Luxottica’s Leonardo Del Vecchio and Renzo Rosso, is among the 10 richest Italians with assets amounting to 75 billion euros, or $104 billion at current exchange. But Bertelli, in an interview with La Repubblica on Monday, took issue with Censis’ view of Forbes’ ranking and its disapproving attitude towards wealth. “I don’t like to be labeled as Scrooge McDuck; we are industrialists who operate in different sectors, who work also on Saturdays and provide jobs to thousands of people,” Bertelli said in the interview. The entrepreneur contended that it is wrong to add a negative connotation to those that create jobs and wealth. Censis captures only a part of today’s situation, he said, “but does not provide in-depth explanations.…Inflation and working under the table [marked] the Eighties and GDP was growing 2 to 2.5 percent. Now there is the euro and we are in a phase of deflation, but in our company we don’t have even one temporary employee. The reality is much more complex than how it is described.”

Bertelli praised Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s “first steps in the right direction” in terms of economic policies and redistributing money to the poorer classes. Once again, he said that a priority is to “reduce the difference between the total costs for a company and the amount that ends up in the pockets of the workers,” given the country’s heavy tax rate. The entrepreneur urged for “cuts on inefficiencies” to prompt a pickup in consumer spending. Asked to comment on the antieuro movements, Bertelli said that “it would be a disaster” without the European currency.

This story first appeared in the May 6, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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