Tracing its origins is difficult. A fire in 1750 destroyed the archives of the Pollone municipality. The only documents that were saved are dated back to the beginning of the 18th century, and those lead to the assumption that the textile manufactory in Pollone was created by Francesco Piacenza (1727-1796).
In 1783, the company already made use of the collaboration of about one hundred people; and exactly that year, it endured heavy consequences from the famine. Yet it managed to recover though, thanks to a strategic decision to move the business interests to Turin. This is where they built a fabric trading business with Giuseppe Ferrerò from Moncalieri.
Pietro Francesco had four sons, of which only two were active in the company: Giovanni Battista and Carlo Antonio.
The total economic blockage that took place in the Napoleonic period affected Piacenza only marginally. The far-sightedness of Giovanni Battista and Antonio Piacenza led to the choice of foreign technological innovations, especially Belgian, thus defining agreements with other producers; these choices were particularly adequate to the market needs.
During the company relaunch, other family members took up important public assignments, such as Giovanni Battista, who became president of the Appeal Court of Turin and participated in the Albertine Statute drafting, and Giuseppe Battista, who became the first civil architect of the King and member of the Turin academy. And it was specifically this intertwining of public life with industrial life that brought the Piacenza family to the peak of its prestige.
The company experienced great recovery under Giovanni Francesco (1811-1883), son of Carlo Antonio. Resulting was an industry abreast with the times and directed towards the new fashion. Carlo Antonio alternated himself with his brother Gregorio in leading the company, while the other brother, Delfino, carried the business responsibility for the Turin branch sales and, furthermore, handled trade relations with the English, the French and the Belgians.
Giovanni Francesco had the great merit of being the first to introduce fabrics with coloured patterns, which were a big success in a market dominated by plain colours.
This grand intuition was rewarded with a silver medal in 1832, on the occasion of the Turin exhibition, and two gold medals, one in 1844 in Turin and another one in 1854 in Genoa.
Then came the acquisition period, which allowed further expansion for the company. The wool mill Germano of Sordevolo was acquired in 1842, and successively the wool mill Vercellone, with its activity in Coloni di Pollone, also became part of Piacenza. During that period, there were significant plant innovations. Boilers for the production of motive power using steam were installed, substituting the hydraulic force, which was technically dependent on seasons' variations and respective precipitations.
Furthermore, and of great significance, were the choices in the social issue area; suffice it to recall the planning of the so-called "large factory", built around 1850, which hosted the productive area on the ground floor, while the first floor held residences for workers, allowing them to reach the workplace quickly.
Just like his father, Giovanni Francesco was also mayor of Pollone in 1842. The most significant act in the municipality administration was the reordering of the municipal assets, from the taking of the census to the successive sale or concession of the municipal properties.
The respective proceeds allowed the improvement of public services: schools, roads, as well as the postal link activation with the city of Biella.
Giovanni Francesco was bestowed with the insignia of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, thanks to his friendship with the Count of Cavour, who was a guest in Pollone several times. During his management, the growth of the company led to an operative structure of over 300 factory workers, and also activated important initiatives in the public communication sector, such as the Biella-Santhià and the Turin-Novara.
He was a nature lover, especially floriculture, and started the realisation of the Burcina Park in Pollone; he created a mountainous landscape using mainly conifers, such as the red fir, and started off some infrastructures, such as roads, paths, ponds, and farmhouses.
The scenery was that of a typical Italian garden with a strong tendency towards the more spontaneous English garden.
His son Felice looked after this project for over 50 years.
Due to health reasons, Giovanni Francesco was forced to hand the company leadership over to his sons Carlo and Felice.
The entrance in the company, especially that of Felice, is described by himself. A significant emphasis is given to the commitment of both Carlo and Felice to take the company back to new business success moments, since the last management years of Carlo Francesco were the stage of particularly difficult times.
Accurate financial management and the introduction of new processing systems were the preconditions for the new company significance.
With the unification of Italy, a wide market opened up and, at the same time, new entrepreneurial activities external to the Biella area came to the fore.
In 1867 Felice decided to monitor foreign markets searching for new technologies and new products.
Especially Belgium, for Felice Piacenza, was a place for deep reflections, both technically and commercially.
Along with the modernisation of the plant, Felice Piacenza gave vigour to the market expansion. France, Belgium, England, Switzerland, the Americas, India, and Asian countries were the commercial outlets of the Piacenza production.
In 1888, though, a fire of vast proportions led to serious damages. Once more the passion and the entrepreneurial spirit were the driving force behind the company's recovery.
In the meantime, the versatile entrepreneurial activity of Felice Piacenza brought about new and diversified acquisitions to give the group a strong weight. In 1900, while the Filatura di Tollegno (Tollegno spinning mill) was being set up, Felice Piacenza also set up Standard, an automobile factory in Turin, along with the Remmerts, the Axerios and other partners. The cotton mills Subalpino, Rolla and Dora were additional entrepreneurial initiatives.
Another relevant initiative, expression of a highly productive structure, was the creation of a wool mill school for the practical training of students from the Biella professional textile school.
Furthermore and importantly, on the social front, was the creation of an "assistance fund", a true provision fund for employees in case of sickness, work incapacity and serious family problems.
The entrepreneurial spirit of Felice Piacenza had a strong effect on the relations with the employees, even during periods of trade union unrest. He managed to unite entrepreneurs for the first industrial association in Italy, and participated in the establishing of the Associazione Laniera Italiana (Italian Wool Industry Association).
Leading the company after Felice was his son Guido, who also cultivated various cultural interests. In 1910 he achieved the Italian altitude record with the aerostat (9,400 metres); he promoted and participated in a flight across the Himalayas, in addition to crossing the Congo on foot. He promoted and was amongst the financial backers of the Biella airport, participated in the reclamation works on the Giannutri island and the respective archaeological excavations.
His brother Mario was also inventive and daring. In addition to participating in the company leadership, he was an intense and pioneering mountain-climber in Italy. Suffice it to remember the famous climbing of the Matterhorn, which became known as "Piacenza road".
A new and sudden crisis, though, struck the company in the 1930s, and it was forced to close temporarily. A new period of lively activity, though, was about to start in the company story. Enzo, the son of Felice, reorganized the family activity on the technical and administrative level, also making use of specialized know-how of international consultants.
The wartime period forced Piacenza to concentrate on military clothing. It was an obligated choice, yet it had a strong effect on the productive activity development, with its turnover reaching numbers never reached before.
The successive post-war crisis, coinciding with the American crisis, led the company to close the Turin plant. Once more, the entrepreneurial creativity, and in this case Enzo Piacenza's, managed to give the company a turning point by choosing to concentrate on the production on a new article - the fabric for the haute couture. This was the turning point that brought Piacenza to the world of haute couture, and which allowed it to achieve fame and success on an international level, especially in France and in the United States.
Notwithstanding World War II, the company succeeded in imposing its own entrepreneurial style in the various markets.
From the marriage of Enzo Piacenza with Giuseppina Rolla Rosazza, six children were born. The first two, Giovanni (class 1926) and Riccardo (class 1927), entered the company while still quite young, taking on leadership roles. It was the beginning of the period that built the foundations for today's company.
The old factoryThe present factory