One of the oldest Italian jeans brands, Rifle, might stop existing as The Tribunal of Florence has declared it officially bankrupt, according to Italian press reports.
The company based in Barberino di Mugello, near Florence, has been facing difficulties in the last years. In 2017 Sandro Fratini, son of Giulio, co-founder of the brand with his brother Fiorenzo, signed an agreement with the Swiss investment company Kora. The investment company had first acquired 44% of the brand and then reached 55% of it.
Despite the fact that they started a series of relaunch projects (also read here) under the guidance of CEO Franco Marianelli, an expert insider of the jeans scene who worked for brands including Gas and Guess, Rifle could not reach black figures and closed the year 2018 registering €16 million in sales and a loss of €3.3 million, as reported by local media.
In the following months difficulties have grown further and became even stronger because of Covid. In May 2020 the company made a request of composition with creditors to the Tribunal of Florence while it requested the Italian State a layoff procedure because of Covid.
Despite the request of composition for creditors no industrial plan for the relaunch of the brand was delivered within the term of September 25, also due to the fact that Fratini family is no longer involved and Kora Investment is in liquidation. Therefore at the beginning of October 2020 the Tribunal declared bankruptcy for Rifle. It also disposed a 45-day temporary operation as referred by local unions that hope to soon meet the bankruptcy trustee in to examine the situation and find a solution for the company's 96 employees.
SI contacted the company and its newly named bankruptcy trustee, Adelaide di Tullio, in order to confirm the recent developments, but no feedback reached us until editorial deadline.
Third part insiders close to the company confirmed that Rifle & Co. Srl is actively involved in looking for solutions for its employees, while carefully selecting potential investors interested in prolonging the life course of this brand's identity mixing authentic denim heritage with Italian know-how.
There is still a chance that an investor could stand up and save this historic brand founded in 1958 that became very popular in Italy and other countries, including the former USSR where its name is still used as a synonym for the word "jeans.”
[This article was edited again 07 October 2020]