* TV programme accuses down jacket makers of mistreatment
* Moncler shares fall as much as 6 pct
* Moncler defends high prices (Recasts, adding company comment, )
By Valentina Za
MILAN, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Moncler denied on Monday allegations of animal mistreatment after a television programme accused down jacket makers of using inhumane methods to pluck geese, sending shares in the Italian luxury outerwear brand down as much as 6 percent.
Moncler said in statement it only used goose down from suppliers who were bound by contract to protect the welfare of animals. The company’s comment followed footage broadcast on Italian television on Sunday night that showed geese in Hungary being plucked in a way that left many of them badly injured.
Moncler said its down suppliers were currently located in Italy, France and North America.
“There is no link whatsoever with the strong images broadcast relating to breeders, suppliers and farms that act in an improper and illegal way,” it said, adding it has given its lawyers a mandate to protect its rights.
Traders blamed the drop in Moncler’s shares, which underperformed a 2 percent fall in Milan’s blue-chip index , on the programme, which was broadcast at prime time on Italian state television.
Reputation Manager, an Italian firm that measures brands’ online standing, said the show, called Report, had triggered 4,300 tweets on Moncler between Sunday night and Monday morning, 88 percent of which were negative.
“Crucial aspects for the reputation of a company such as social responsibility, sustainability and quality have received a hard blow all at once,” Reputation Manager CEO Andrea Barchiesi said in a note.
Report criticised Moncler and other luxury brands for shifting production out of Italy to lower-paid workers in eastern Europe despite the high profit margins on their goods.
Moncler, whose jackets can cost more than 1,000 euros, said it had not shifted production to the region as it had always operated there.
“In Italy we’ve kept some efficient collaborations with the best garment makers,” it said.
The show interviewed small businesses in southern Italy, which said they had laid off workers after losing contracts to supply Moncler.
The company also denied allegations that retail prices for its jackets were too high compared to production costs. It said the cost of its products rose by around 2.5 times by the time they reached shopkeepers who would then mark them up further based on prices prevailing in that market.
“It’s clear that the figures mentioned in the show, which only take into account a small part of the overall cost of the product, are totally inaccurate and misleading,” it said.
Moncler, which started life as a ski jacket maker in the French Alps in 1952, listed its shares on the Milan bourse in December last year at 10.2 euros each.
The stock gained more than 60 percent after its debut to hit an all-time high of 16.60 euros in early January. It has since slowly declined. Shares in Moncler were down 4.6 percent at 10.55 euros by 1614 GMT.
The television show contrasted Moncler and other brands with Brunello Cucinelli, which manufactures exclusive clothing in a hamlet in the Umbria region and has turned the fully made in Italy concept into a powerful marketing tool.
Shares in Cucinelli rose 1.5 percent on Monday, while rivals Tod’s and Salvatore Ferragamo lost around 1.3 percent. (Additional reporting by Danilo Masoni, editing by Louise Heavens)