By  on October 23, 2007

MILAN — Flanked by six windows and with a selling area of 5,400 square feet, the Bulgari accessories flagship opening in Rome today is the largest in Europe.

The store is housed inside Palazzo Caffarelli on the storied Via Condotti, where the company's founder, Sotirio Bulgari, established his store in 1894 and further testifies to the luxury goods firm's commitment to grow the business. "This store is the synthesis of our efforts because accessories is a category filled with great opportunity but also an extremely competitive one," said chief executive officer Francesco Trapani.

To that end, industry sources indicated Gianluca Lera, formerly at Fendi, is now coordinating the firm's accessories team. Trapani declined to comment on the appointment.

The new Rome unit comes with a revised store concept, developed in conjunction with Bulgari's in-house team and external architects, which Trapani defines as "even more prestigious and richer than the ones in Milan and Florence."

To fete the opening, Bulgari will host a cocktail party tonight with expected guests including Katie Saunders and a gaggle of Italian actresses, such as Valeria Golino, Isabella Ferrari and Laura Morante, followed by a private dinner at palazzo Doria Pamphilj.

Trapani declined to unveil sales projections or the store's investment, but conceded accessories should register double-digit growth on next year's balance sheet. In the first half of 2007, Bulgari's accessories sales declined 14.6 percent to 40.6 million euros, or $57.9 million at average exchange, due to the impact of currency fluctuations, weakness in Japan and a change in the delivery timetable.

The opening of the Rome store follows a meticulous remodeling of the site that brought back to life the space's original cross and tent vaults, while the floors alternate Trani stone and oak and hawthorne wood. The same wood appears on the leather-trimmed glass showcases that are either walled-in or in stand-alone versions, where exotic skin bags are displayed.

Fourteen windows arcade the back of the store, allowing for natural light to beam in from the courtyard.

The front area is dedicated to exclusive bags, such as one-of-a-kind styles, while the central area is filled with women's eyewear and day bags. The four adjoining rooms in the back are dedicated to the travel and work collections, men's eyewear, ties, silk and cashmere accessories, gifts and small leather goods.

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