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Gucci staff in Rome strike to protest relocation plans

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Dive Brief:

  • Gucci will relocate its design office from Rome to Milan in the first half of 2024, affecting 153 out of 219 employees, according to a source familiar with the move.
  • In response to the announcement, the source confirmed that a few dozen Gucci employees went on strike in Rome to protest the move, which would shift the design offices approximately 350 miles north.
  • “Regarding the recent protest related to the transfer of the Design Office from Rome to Milan, Gucci informs that this transfer was announced to the trade unions in early October,” a Gucci spokesperson said in an email to Fashion Dive. “It does not involve any staff reductions and will be carried out in full compliance with current regulations.”

Dive Insight:

The design offices have been based in Rome since 2009, per the source. Meanwhile, Gucci’s corporate head office is based in Florence, located approximately halfway between Milan and Rome.

“The Company has introduced a set of measures, encompassing both economic incentives and active support, designed to facilitate the relocation of all employees involved,” Gucci’s spokesperson said. “These measures are notably more favourable than those stipulated in the Italian national collective agreement.”

However, Reuters reported on Monday that the regional office of the International Trade Union Confederation Development Cooperation & Education said Gucci’s decision “was not supported by objective reasons,” which made it “hard not to think the real goal was to cut staff.”

The design office move comes at the end of a tumultuous year for Gucci and its parent company Kering, following last year’s departure of Rome-born creative director Alessandro Michele.

In May, Gucci EVP Piero Braga left the company for a CEO role at Italy-based fashion company Slowear, and another Gucci executive, Robert Triefus, left to serve as CEO at Sportswear Company SpA, maker of Stone Island.

A few months later, in July, Marco Bizzarri announced he would be stepping down as Gucci’s president and CEO effective Sept. 23. Jean-François Palus, managing director of Gucci parent company Kering Group, stepped in to take over the reins for a transitional period, and no additional appointments to that role have been announced.

Kering acquired a 30% stake in Italian fashion house Valentino at the end of July, and at the beginning of September, Alessio Vanetti returned to Gucci as executive vice president and chief brand officer after a three-year stint as Valentino’s chief brand officer.

During Milan Fashion Week at the end of September, Gucci’s new creative director Sabato de Sarno, appointed in January, showed his first collection. However, the promise of fresh designs didn’t bolster Kering’s bottom line, and the company reported a 13% revenue decline for Q3 amid a larger downturn for the luxury sector.

Gucci’s spokesperson said the decision to move its design offices was an effort to help bring together the company’s various divisions and consolidate its resources moving forward.

“With the relocation to Milan, the Creative Director and the different teams involved will have the opportunity to collaborate closely with the strategic functions of the company already based in the city, thus maximizing the necessary interactions and synergies,” Gucci’s spokesperson said.

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