March 5, 2015 / 5:36 PM / 5 years ago

Italian hat maker Borsalino looks at options to keep going

MILAN, March 5 (Reuters) - Italian hat maker Borsalino, which has helped clothe politicians, celebrities and movie stars including Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca”, is looking at ways to stay afloat having run into financial problems.

Founded in 1857 by the eponymous family, Borsalino is one of a series of small Italian fashion houses that have strong brands but are short on the financial muscle and management skills to boost growth beyond a stagnating domestic market.

“The company is evaluating a series of options to address its financial difficulties and put it in a position to carry on business,” it said in an email, though it gave no further detail or reason for the financial issues.

Italian press reports said Borsalino, headquartered in the small north-western town of Alessandro, had already filed for Chapter 11-like creditor protection, but the company’s CEO Marco Moccia said no final decision had been taken.

In 2013 the company suffered a net loss of almost 22 million euros as revenue fell 11 percent to 13.6 million euros.

The company, whose stylish fedora felt hats and straw panamas are sold in upmarket fashion chains around the world, has nine of its own shops in Italy and two in France.

“There has been an increase in demand for products, overseas clients are still buying and dealers are not deserting the sales campaigns,” a spokesman said.

In 2014 it signed a licensing agreement with Bollman Hat Co for distribution in the United States.

The company’s movie credits also include the 1970 gangster film “Borsalino” starring Alain Delon and Jean Paul Belmondo which was so successful it spawned a follow-up “Borsalino & Co”.

Former Italian president Giorgio Napolitano is a fan of Borsalino hats and a frequent visitor to its Rome store. (Additional reporting by Elisa Anzolin; Editing by David Holmes)

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