Italian entrepreneur gains pulse to acquire La Perla

Wednesday, 05 June 2013
Italian entrepreneur gains pulse to acquire La PerlaSilvio Scaglia, an Italian entrepreneur who founded several technology start-ups, has won control of La Perla after bagging the lingerie brand, beating both Calzedonia and Delta Galil Industries. Scaglia's SMS Finance holding company’s bid at a Bologna bankruptcy court came at 69 million euros, 1 million euros over Calzedonia's bid.

"WeItalian entrepreneur gains pulse to acquire La Perla will make La Perla a great international brand for beauty and feminine luxury," Scaglia told reporters Tuesday, after the founder of telecoms group Fastweb and recent new owner of Elite models agency, bought ailing luxury underwear label La Perla at a court-led auction in Bologna.

Scaglia, who bid through Luxembourg-based SMS Finance, said he had won the auction with a 69-million-euro offer, 1 million euros ahead of Calzedonia’s offered 68 million euros. Israel's Delta Galil Industries also bid in the auction for La Perla, according to Italian media.

Under the deal, Scaglia will lease the assets until the bankruptcy proceedings are completed, at which time he will get full ownership. His goal is to double sales in a year.

''There has been a significant reduction in sales volumes. I think a good deal of this was management mistakes. The reaction to the crisis has been to cut costs to the point of the real muscle, and not just the fat," Scaglia said in an interview published by Reuters.

Silvio Scaglia recently bought the Elite modeling agency, which he said led him to consider La Perla. ''We realized that Elite has the potential to really add value to a company like La Perla due to its relationship to the fashion business, links to music to entertainment, all of this tends to point more and more to the luxury consumer," Scaglia said in an interview Tuesday. ''The fashion world is one where Italy has clear excellence. I see the potential with it very clearly."


Restructuration to battle losses

Earlier in May, La Perla entered exclusive talks with fashion group Calzedonia over the sale of a controlling stake that would help the poss-making group re-launch on international markets. The companies said in a joint statement at that time that they would examine the terms of a possible tie-up with the aim of preserving jobs in Italy while opening stores in Asia, Russia and Latin America. No financial details were released.

Loss-making La Perla is being restructured under the supervision of a court in accordance with Italian law.

The ailing luxury underwear maker has been looking for possible partners since the end of 2012 to help it battle declining sales and an adverse market in Europe, where La Perla sells over 67 percent of its products. La Perla registered revenues of 107 million euros in 2012, slightly lower than a year earlier.

The restructuring process has been closely watched by Italian trade unions to avoid major job losses. Commenting the acquisition, Scaglia assured that 800 jobs will be saved. Scaglia’s plans also include revamping the retail network and more actively inserting La Perla into the fashion network.

American private equity fund JH Partners bought La Perla in 2008 and has invested around 50 million euros in the company. Scaglia said he would pump a further 110 million euros into re-launching the brand.