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Versace to fire a quarter of workforce as recession bites

It seems even the very rich are feeling the pain of global recession - or certainly the highly aspirant are. And that means those stuck in the middle will pay. Milan’s Versace Group is to slash 26% of its workforce worldwide, so it can return to profitability in 2011. The fashion house will close three shops in Japan, which it intends to reposition and then re-open next year. Greater China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, is still going swimmingly, but the unlisted “haute couture” outfit has felt the pinch of rising operating costs since 2006, and expects a loss of about $45 million in 2009, with 2010 results “flat” at best. By 2011, however, it expects to be growing by about 3% or 4%. In the meanwhile, 350 staff of about 1,360 will fall off the catwalk by the middle of next year. According to The New York Times, big boss Gian Giacomo Ferraris, says: “In this business, you can’t just wait for the economy to pick up. You have to be a trendsetter.” However, some of its deep-pocketed rivals are doing much better, with shares in Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH ) up 45% this year. That’s trend-setting at its best. Read more: The New York Times

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