La Rinascente pursues major international expansion

La Rinascente has launched plans to expand overseas. “Our goal is to build a collection of department stores located in dynamic tourist and shopping areas in the heart of the world’s capitals and major international cities,” explained company vice president Vittorio Radice in an interview with the Italian economic weekly “Il Mondo.”

The Italian department stores are thus continuing the strategy envisioned by Central Retail Corporation (CRC), the Thai group that bought the brand in 2011. Controlled by the Chiathivat family, CRC is a leader in department stores and the retail sector in Southeast Asia.

Vittorio Radice

The idea isn’t to purchase other chains but rather to acquire “iconic symbols, historic department stores,” much as Liberty of London has done, and to restructure them, inspired by the example of La Rinascente Duomo in Milan. That store attracts 10 million visitors each year and represents nearly 60% of the brand’s total sales. La Rinascente, which has 11 department stores in Italy, reported 2012 revenues of 462 million euros, an increase of 5.7% compared with 2011.

The plan to go global started with the company’s relaunch of the Danish department store Illum, the historic company founded in Copenhagen in 1891, which was acquired by La Rinascente last March.

Restructuring and investment plans will be presented to the Danish authorities early this fall, with work scheduled to begin in 2014. “We will invest 10 million euros per year for five years, 50 million euros overall, which should enable us to double the revenues of this Danish department store from 100 to 200 million euros,” stated Vittorio Radice, who has been assigned by Thai company CRC to monitor La Rinascente’s international development activities.

Danish department store Illum

The Thai property company also envisions expansion in Asia, both in China, where CRC already has three stores, and in Southeast Asia. “An opening is scheduled for Jakarta, Indonesia, and in Vietnam we are studying the possibility of setting up in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City,” announced Vittorio Radice.

At the same time, the Italian brand is pursuing plans for development in the domestic market. In particular, it is targeting an expansion of its Milan offerings, opening a new youth-oriented fashion and lifestyle area complete with bar. In February 2015 a major flagship store is scheduled to open on Rome’s Via del Tritone, representing an investment of 200 million euros. And finally, La Rinascente hopes to enlarge its Florence store and to open a new location in Venice, but the group is still awaiting the go-ahead from local authorities.

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