A complicated turnaround by a team of interim managers
HR OnLine n. 3 year 2015
by Federico Ferrarini and Gian Andrea Oberegelsbacher

Different competencies are sometimes needed in particularly delicate and complex turnaround situations, and can only be achieved through the use of a team of Interim Managers. However, if a team is not well managed it can increase the risk and complexity of an already difficult situation.
The company manufactures and markets clothing for men, women, children, both for large chains, retail and wholesale; it also has its proprietary brand. In the past, it specialized in the production of customer's brand men's clothing for large scale distribution in Italy (30%), Western Europe (60%) and other countries (10%).  It had its factories in the Mediterranean area outside of Italy as well as subcontractors. In India and Pakistan, it has its organizational base and works with third-party plants, for a total of 30 laboratories, in Italy is specialized in the creation of collections, the development of samples, and the production of counter-samples. The company has been racking up significant losses for several years. Its net financial position, from an active balance, has progressively reached a debt of 14.5 million Euros with the last few years. A major bank said it was no longer willing to confirm the trusts. Hence the request for action.  Primarily to bring the company back to profit. There was also an unofficial and less explicit goal of the client: to resolve an impasse between family members. Due to cross-vetoes, the company could not take important decisions in the face of the protracted and pressing crisis.
Immediately the critical situation highlighted the need to oversee the different areas with managers of different extractions and managerial culture. The project was critical for numerous reasons; the company was complex and reasonably large (150 employees), the timing was stringent, the market was followed the fashion seasons and the letters of credit had to be opened for overseas suppliers.  A team of 6 Interim Managers was created specifically for the intervention. The business analysis phase lasted about three months and produced an industrial plan and a share plan (approved by the Board). Two managers were then included as CEOs, the first with delegations on finance, staff, and review/control of spending, the second on the commercial-marketing area.  The other Interim Managers were: a financial manager with experience in managing difficult situations and ex-art procedures. 67, an operations manager with special experience on lean production issues - six sigma, a project manager with strong management skills (management and production control area), and IT project manager with knowledge of the Fashion sector for the change of information system and the implementation of the new work organization
The company produced collections for men, women, and children, serving the wholesale/large chains channel and retail. The collections were both low-quality products and high-quality products, sold with own brands, and with third-party brands (private labels). The company had sufficient trust funding for its needs, had no stranded positions with banks or suppliers, had a substantial net worth higher than the considerable NFP. However, the concern of the banks was not so much the weakness of the capital, but the continued erosion of net worth caused by the significant growing operating losses that long plagued the company and the consequent growth of the NFP. 
In the prospect of yet another negative balance sheet the banking relations started to become unstable and the bank openly declares its unwillingness to support the current industrial plan if not within an ex-art procedure. 67 L.F. Concurrently the primary bank began to reduce the available trusts without touching the theoretical trusts, subsequently, other institutions followed this lead. At this point, the company decided to intervene with the specific request to all banks to stand still and start the procedure ex-art. 67 L.F.: The banking agreement ex-art. 67 L.F. was signed 8 months after the start of the practice.
The project team decided the following turnaround strategy:

  • The abandonment of the women's and children's sector and a return to the sector traditionally run for decades by the company, the casual man
  • The abandonment of the retail sector due to the high unresolved credit
  • Development stop of its proprietary high-end brand, focus on the casual segment with good value for money
  • Closure of plants in Europe and focus on Made in the far east
  • Moving sample production and counter-samples to the Far East
  • Use the new ERP implementation as a change-engine for the reorganization  and staff reduction
  • Sale of the brand in the child sector with strong capital gain
  • Focus on customer service in the men's sector for large distribution facilities, both with its proprietary brand and as private label.

In essence, the business activities were back to its origins, and the know-how that had once characterized the company was re-harnessed.

The implementation of the strategy and the reorganization in industrial operations: 

  • Closure of the owned plants in the Mediterranean basin
  • Agreement for CIGS and mobility for the reduction of almost two-thirds of employees, 
  • Rationalization of the management structure and the advancement of high potential young managers under the coaching of senior STM managers. 
  • Closure of the women's and children's business units and the detail channel 
  • Implantation of a new computer system
  • The former art banking agreement was signed. 67 L.F. with lenders with mortgage current account ignition on corporate real estate. 
  • Finally, the modeling was reorganized with the transfer of sample and counter-Samples production to the Far East, while at the same time making a heavy cut to the fixed cost structure and a tightening of cost control.

The results of the intervention and follow-on: 

  • Return to profit after two years from the beginning of the intervention and compliance with the covenants provided by the banking agreement ex-art. 67 L.F. 
  • A significant turnaround in the development of the NFP: from continuous growth to continuous decline, NFP/EBITDA of 3, NFP/PN below the value of 0.7 
  • The contact with Studio Temporary Manager™ S.p.A was extended for two years.  The   banking institutions requested that  two team members remained on the board and the group required support to assure the sustainability of the business results 
  • Confirmation of the profit also in the third year of the intervention with the covenants respected. 
  • The company ownership maintains strong links with Studio Temporary Manager™ S.p.A,   after this executive phase of the project...

Federico Ferrarini e Gian Andrea Oberegelsbacher, Studio Temporary Manager™ S.p.A.,

Back >


Request information

You will be contacted as soon as possible by one of our operators

Support active from 8:30 am - 6:30 pm from Monday to Friday