The company, which is controlled by French luxury group Kering, offered more details about the plan on Thursday during a remotely held meeting with the Ministry of Economic Development, in the presence of representatives from the Ministry of Labor; the regions of Lombardy and Abruzzo, where Brioni is headquartered, and the National and Territorial Secretariats of the trade unions represented within the company.
As reported, in the period until 2025, Brioni estimated it will let go of up to a maximum of around 320 workers who are directly and indirectly employed in production, rationalizing costs and scaling back production sites in the towns of Penne (Pescara), Montebello di Bertona (Pescara) and Civitella Casanova (Pescara), which are staffed by more than 1,000 employees, with the goal of implementing all necessary actions to relaunch and develop the brand.
Overall, the industrial plan reflects the struggles faced by the formal men’s wear segment — which also hit other Italian specialists such as Corneliani and Pal Zileri — that were accelerated by the impact of the pandemic.
During the meeting on Thursday, Brioni informed that more than 200 workers out of the 320 employees have already signed specific agreements for the mutually agreed-upon, incentivized resolution of their contracts.
To facilitate individual and collective outplacement paths, Brioni supported the opening of specific contact points in its production sites that are providing employees consultancy on both retirement and relocation aspects.
In a statement released following the meeting, the company reiterated that it continues to use social safety nets and wage support as previously agreed with the trade unions, in order to further protect all workers.
Aiming to reduce the social impact as much as possible, Brioni started working with the unions earlier this year to find measures for reemployment, including wage support connected to the COVID-19 period (the Extraordinary Redundancy Fund); all available social safety nets; early retirement and forms of incentives and economic compensation, and reallocation within the group.
In addition to the update regarding employees’ status, the company shared progresses made in the last months in reference to the industrial plan, including the opening a new store in China and the planned launch of other two units in the country in December, as well as the reorganization of production lines and renovated investments in communication.
As per the plan, the men’s wear specialist will also focus on developing accessories and new product categories, as well as rebalancing its offering toward a high-end leisurewear direction in order to expand its customer base, while retaining production in Italy.
“The company therefore reiterates its firm intention to continue to proceed in a logic of constructive confrontation and dialogue with the trade unions and with all parties, with the goal to implement all the necessary actions for the safeguard and strengthening of the brand and in order to return the company to levels of efficiency and profitability that are sustainable over the long term,” concluded Brioni’s statement.
After the meeting, however, trade unions leveraged complaints on the plan and lamented that there are still too many workers as risk of losing their jobs.
“Since the Kering group acquired Brioni it has only been concerned with settling its debts, but has never really proposed a plan to relaunch the historic Italian brand,” reported a shared statement signed by Sonia Paoloni, Raffaele Salvatoni and Daniela Piras, who are national secretaries of the Filctem Cgil, Femca Cisl, Uiltec Uil trade unions, respectively.
“We are aware that the current economic phase still presents complications due to the pandemic but the Kering group must implement an industrial plan investing in skills and manufacturing, which are the true wealth of this Made in Italy brand,” continued the note, further underscoring that the “the loss of know-how only risks impoverishing Brioni” and that “this practice began well before the pandemic crisis and has nothing to do with it.”
“We will never share an industrial plan that foresees the restructuring of the company with further relapsing on the employment front. The Brioni workers have already done their part by paying a very high price both in terms of employment and wages,” concluded the trade unions’ statement.
Brioni was acquired by Kering in 2011, when it was known as PPR, from the descendants of the company’s founders, Nazareno Fonticoli and Gaetano Savini.
The brand is designed by creative director Norbert Stumpfl. He succeeded Nina-Maria Nitsche, who left Brioni in 2018 after only one year, and who had been the third creative director in less than three years. That included Justin O’Shea, who had been handpicked by former ceo Gianluca Flore and left after only six months in 2016 in the wake of changes that were seen as too sharp a departure from the style of the brand, such as signing the members of Metallica to front its communication.