La Perla Declared Insolvent by Italian Court

MILAN — La Perla’s financial troubles have reached a tipping point.

According to media reports, a Bologna, Italy, court declared the state of insolvency Thursday, with judge Michele Atzori naming a trifecta of court commissioners tasked with leading the Italian subsidiary La Perla Manufacturing Srl out of the quagmire. This marks the exit of the brand’s owner Tennor.

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As part of the procedure, after assessing the company’s financial condition, commissioners can rule in favor of liquidation or judicial administration, the latter geared at preserving jobs and business continuity.

This comes a few days after a judicial liquidation was commenced in the U.K. for La Perla Global Management UK, the British company that owns the La Perla brand and its global assets. The development followed the Bologna court-ordered seizure in mid-January of the British company in order to prevent the sale of the luxury lingerie label, which is viewed as among the most likely moves to recoup unpaid tax debts that reportedly total 2.8 million pounds.

Through its La Perla Manufacturing Srl Italian subsidiary, the brand employs around 330 workers in Italy, 230 of which are based at its Bologna manufacturing site.

The new developments — albeit still uncertain — come with some relief for employees and trade unions after concerns about the fate of the luxury innerwear label intensified over the past six months.

As reported, last summer trade unions said workers had not been paid on a regular basis and they stood by the seamstresses’ side as the latter held a demonstration at the European Parliament in Brussels last week asking an Italian delegation of members of the Parliament to intervene to safeguard their jobs.

These were just a few of the steps taken over the past few years as La Perla faced its financial problems. Unions Cgil, Filctem Cgil, Uil and Uiltec have been vocal about La Perla’s issues on several fronts, in the courthouse of Bologna, where it has been historically based, and urging the Ministry of the Enterprises and Made in Italy to take a stand to avoid the liquidation of the company, which “should be managed by entrepreneurs who care about the relaunch of this storied brand. […] We refute the idea that the only priorities of English liquidators are the London revenue authorities’ claimed credits.”

La Perla has failed to relaunch in recent years and after German businessman Lars 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 that the German businessman had pledged to put in place never materialized.

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.

La Perla was founded in 1956 by the corsetry maker Ada Masotti. Her son, Alberto Masotti, headed the business until it was sold to private equity player JH Partners in 2007. Ownership of La Perla later passed to Silvio Scaglia in 2013, who sold it to Sapinda in 2018.

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