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La Perla seamstresses protest in front of the European Parliament

By Susan Zijp


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Credits: European Parliament

La Perla workers are reportedly demanding new legislation in Italy that would protect them from financial speculation. As such, seamstresses of the lingerie brand were positioned in front of the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday, according to WWD. This is not the first time La Perla workers have protested.

This time, however, they wanted to "tell their story" to an Italian delegation of MPs, asking them to "draft legislation that will no longer allow financial and economic speculation such as they are currently experiencing", Ugo Cherubini, national secretary of the Italian union Filctem Cgil shared with the media outlet. According to Cherubini, Italy has a "lack of a serious industrial policy" and this has made room for speculators to "plunder the economic and production network of our country [Italy, ed] and then run off [with the money, ed]."

Unions regret that German businessman Lars Windhorst, owner of the company through his London-based Tennor Holding B.V., has not submitted a plan to relaunch La Perla after Tennor, then known as Sapinda, acquired it in 2018. The Italian lingerie brand was bought by Dutch Sapinda Holding in February 2018. In May 2019, La Perla received a 23 million euro capital injection, yet still remained deeply in debt. At the same time, La Perla's owner invested 50 million dollars in now-defunct British couture house Ralph & Russo. Windhorst would later invest 60 to 70 million euros in La Perla's relaunch, which would never happened.

Several proceedings are currently ongoing around Windhorst's company, its UK operations and La Perla in both the UK and Italy.

Unions want to protect 'all that is good about italy'

Cherubini stressed the urgency for legislation, saying there was "no more time to lose". He stressed that the brand is a symbol of Made in Italy production, which is however being held back by people who profit from Italy's poor infrastructure. It was these people that Cherubini called "unscrupulous financial speculators". "This should not be allowed. The price is paid not only by the expert seamstresses of La Perla, but by all the good in our country. We must defend our industry if we want to defend our companies and Made in Italy in the world."

The demonstration in Brussels is not La Perla's first protest. Trade unions Cgil, Filctem Cgil, Owl and Uiltec have spoken out on several fronts. What the protesters want is for La Perla to be owned by "entrepreneurs who care about this legendary brand". Cherubini further shared with WWD: "We reject that the only priorities of English trustees are credits from the London tax authorities."

La Perla was founded in 1956 by corset maker Ada Masotti. Her son, Alberto Masotti, ran the company until it was sold to JH Partners in 2007. La Perla later passed to Silvio Scaglia in 2013, who sold it in 2018 to Sapinda (now Tennor Holding B.V.), owned by entrepreneur Lars Windhorst. The lingerie brand currently employs around 330 workers in Italy, 230 of whom work at its production site in Bologna. According to trade unions, they are not paid on a regular basis.

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