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Gucci Employees Protest Over Proposed Relocation from Rome to Milan

In a significant move that has sparked controversy, Italian luxury fashion house Gucci, a subsidiary of the French conglomerate Kering, has announced plans to relocate a substantial part of its design studio from Rome to Milan. This decision has led to a wave of protests from the company’s employees, marking a notable moment in Gucci’s 102-year history.

The Nature of the Protest

The relocation plan, which involves moving 153 out of 219 design employees from Rome to Milan, approximately 380 miles away, has been met with stiff opposition from the staff. Employees argue that this move is effectively a “mass redundancy in disguise,” impacting their lives significantly. Approximately 40 to 50 artisans from Gucci’s design studio participated in a strike, expressing their discontent with banners reading “Gucci cuts but doesn’t sew” and “At Gucci, redundancy is fashionable.”

The Unions’ Stance

Union representatives have been vocal in their criticism of the move. Chiara Giannotti, a union representative, described the Rome design office as the heart of Gucci, where all collections originate. The unions argue that the relocation to Milan, set for the first half of 2024, is tantamount to a collective dismissal. They emphasize the impracticality for some employees, particularly those with families or single parents, to relocate within a short timeframe.

Union Demands and Company’s Response

The unions are demanding equal conditions for all employees affected by the move, either in Milan or in other Kering companies in Rome or Florence. In response, Gucci has stated that the relocation does not involve any staff reductions and will be implemented in compliance with current regulations. The company also mentioned providing economic incentives and support more favorable than stipulated in the Italian national collective agreement.

Impact on Gucci and Kering

Gucci, as Kering’s largest brand, plays a significant role in the conglomerate’s financial health. However, following a period of high sales in luxury goods, Kering reported a larger-than-expected 9% drop in sales in the last quarter, underperforming its rivals. This slowdown in the market has come after three years of significant profits fueled by post-pandemic consumer demand.

Management Changes and New Directions

Gucci has undergone major management changes, with Sabato De Sarno appointed as the new creative director in January, following the departure of Alessandro Michele in 2022. Under De Sarno’s guidance, Gucci unveiled its “Gucci Ancora” collection, indicating a new direction for the brand.

Corporate Response and Public Perception

Gucci’s response to the situation has been to emphasize the lack of staff reductions and the adherence to regulatory standards. The company has also highlighted its provision of economic incentives and support measures, which it claims are more favorable than the standard. However, this response may not fully address the underlying concerns of the employees regarding the disruption to their lives and the perceived lack of consideration for their personal situations.

Public perception of the brand could be impacted by this event. Gucci, a brand synonymous with luxury and style, now finds itself in the midst of a labor dispute that highlights issues such as employee rights and corporate responsibility. How the company manages and resolves this situation could have long-term implications for its brand image and customer loyalty.

Historical Context and Future Outlook

Gucci’s rich history, marked by familial feuds and dramatic events such as the murder of Maurizio Gucci in 1995, adds a complex backdrop to the current situation. The company’s ability to navigate this latest challenge, balancing employee satisfaction with strategic business decisions, will be crucial in maintaining its position in the luxury fashion industry. In conclusion, Gucci’s proposed relocation from Rome to Milan has stirred up significant unrest among its employees, highlighting the challenges faced by global luxury brands in balancing operational efficiency with employee welfare. For more information, readers can visit the CNN website for detailed coverage of this event.

Key Points

  • Gucci plans to move 153 of 219 design employees from Rome to Milan.
  • Employees and unions view the move as a mass redundancy in disguise.
  • Strikes and protests have been organized in response.
  • Gucci, under Kering, faces challenges amid a market slowdown.
  • The company has seen major management changes and a new creative direction.
  • Gucci’s historical background adds context to the current situation.
Jonas Muthoni
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