UPDATE 1-Gucci offers to rescue porcelain maker Richard Ginori

Fri Apr 5, 2013 12:06pm EDT

MILAN, April 5 (Reuters) - Italian luxury brand Gucci has offered to buy distressed porcelain maker Richard Ginori 1735 and relaunch the centuries-old brand in the home design market.

In a statement on Friday, Gucci, owned by Kering of France, said it had offered 13 million euros ($16.93 million)for Richard Ginori, one of the symbols of Italian craftsmanship.

The company was put on sale by special administrators appointed to stop it going bankrupt.

"The offer is based on a long-term industrial and strategic plan and aims to protect and relaunch a historic Florence brand," said Gucci, which is also based in the historic Italian city.

Richard Ginori, which has worked with designers such as Gio Ponti and Missoni, is among several Italian brands failing to stand on their own in an increasingly competitive market.

Burdened by debt, it was first rescued in 2007 by Italian investor Roberto Villa, who restructured it and brought it back to the stock market in 2009.

But the credit squeeze during the 2008 financial crisis weighed on the relaunch.

A previous offer by a consortium led by American tabletop maker Lenox Corp in November did not go through.

The planned sale has raised concern among its employees, mostly based at the group's historic plant in Tuscany.

Gucci said it aimed to develop luxury tableware in the medium to short term, while striving to keep production local and hiring 230 workers at the company.

Kering, which has changed its name from Pinault-Printemps-Redoute and owns luxury handbag maker Bottega Veneta and menswear brand Brioni, is also in talks to buy jeweller Pomellato.

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