La Perla Urged to Submit Business Plan by Italian Government

MILAN — Developments for La Perla employees in Italy are at a standstill.

After the Ministry of Enterprises and Made in Italy summoned a roundtable with trade unions and representatives for the company on Tuesday, the latter didn’t seem to come up with a plan. German businessman Lars Windhorst, the company’s owner via his London-based private equity firm Tennor, was notably absent in person and reportedly tuned in via streaming and left before its end.

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The meeting followed news last August that the luxury lingerie brand had failed to pay July wages to its employees, as highlighted by the Filctem-Cgil and Uiltec-Uil unions in a joint statement. It is understood that those wages were later paid.

The lingerie brand employs around 330 workers in Italy, 230 of which are based at its Bologna manufacturing site. Unions said that as of Tuesday, August wages had not been paid, but clarified that the company ensured they will be wired no later than Sept. 10.

Italy’s undersecretary Fausta Bergamotto, who presided over the roundtable, urged the company to “submit an industrial plan by mid-October and to meet with Lars Windhorst in person to understand his relaunch plan,” she said. “We also expect the company to honor his duties and pay August wages,” she added. She claimed that the government is willing to help put in place all needed and available measures but said that the state is “not a debit card.”

As the roundtable unfurled in Rome, about 130 La Perla employees were demonstrating at the Ministry of Enterprises and Made in Italy’s headquarters on the capital’s central Via Veneto.

Stefania Pisani, the general secretary of the Filctem-Cgil union, said “satisfaction is partial when it comes to the company’s reassurance about paying wages, which we will only be certain about at the time of the deposits, but we’re totally unsatisfied about the company’s future plans, as there is no real relaunch plan.”

La Perla did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

The troubled innerwear brand has failed to steadily relaunch in recent years, after Windhorst’s private equity firm Tennor, then known as Sapinda, took over the company in 2018. La Perla remains heavily indebted as it logged pre-tax losses of 48.8 million euros on sales of 69.1 million euros in 2022, according to the company’s annual report.

The 60 million to 70 million-euro financing to relaunch the brand which the German businessman had pledged to put in place never materialized. Last month, La Perla Fashion Holding issued 50 million euros in bonds, or 11.1 million shares, hoping to improve its financial position and allocate funds to the brand’s relaunch.

Over the past few years, the lingerie label has been searching for new revenue streams and has expanded into beauty and swimwear. It became one of the first brands to join Amazon Luxury Stores. The company also invested $50 million in the now-shuttered British couture house Ralph & Russo.

As reported, La Perla’s troubled business trickled down to its U.K. operations as last July it resolved winding-up petitions filed by a pool of its British creditors. In particular Purple PR; the accountancy firm Mazars; the design agency Edge Retail, and the consultancy firm HSO Enterprise Solutions all served winding-up notices to the company. Petitions have since been withdrawn after La Perla paid its debts, except for the latter, as the company still owes HSO Enterprise Solutions more than 701,129 pounds.

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