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- 18 Jun 2010
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Ferre Succombs to the Auctioneer’s Hammer


Legendary fashion house goes under the hammer

The Italian fashion house, Gianfranco Ferre, was put up for auction on Wednesday by state-appointed administrators acting on behalf of its parent company, IT Holding, which entered bankruptcy proceedings last year. It was a decline which highlighted the potential weaknesses in areas of the fashion industry, previously masked by boom time prosperity.

Bidding offers for Ferre, which are being overseen by Federico Giammarusto and Lorenzo Di Rosa (Mediobanca) have a current deadline of July 6. The intention that this will leave enough time for everything to be tied up before Milan fashion week in September when the new womenswear collection will be shown.
So, who might the new owner be?

“Ferré needs a strong and rich new owner, who believes in the label and will develop a future for it,” says Andrea Ciccoli, one of three administrators, adding, “Whatever the nationality of the buyer, Ferré will remain an Italian brand in everyone’s mind.” The label does indeed have a strong heritage. Gianfraco Ferre himself was dubbed the “architect of fashion” and was a style director for Christian Dior. However, in recent years and despite expensive image and communication consultancy contracts, which Robert Spada, one of the administrators felt it was his duty to end, the brand has become estranged from its directional roots and has struggled to establish a modern place for itself in the market. Re-positioning the brand responsibly, and at a cost which will ensure a good return, will be crucial to its success under a new owner.

Ciccoli also has more conservative priorities in mind and stated that offers that preserve jobs and financial stability would be preferred. Indeed none of the 200 workers have been made redundant despite the recent upheaval in the company. In fact there is a belief that it was circumstance rather than any real failure that led the brand to its current situation, with some experts from the sector claiming that Ferré could have survived if it had not been part of a larger group.

Meanwhile analysts have suggested that fashion groups in emerging markets, particularly China and India, could be interested in acquiring the house and launching its brand in Asia.

Ittierre, a division of IT that distributes labels including Just Cavalli, C’N’C Costume National and Ermanno Scervino, was also put up for sale on Wednesday. They have kept a licensing agreement for their youth line, G F Ferré. Malo, a luxury knitwear company and another IT division, has received offers from four Italian groups.