By  on February 21, 2007

Retailing is a cornerstone of Furla's history and has helped build the brand's exposure and visibility globally.

From its initial store on Bologna's Via Ugo Bassi selling various commodities made scarce by World War II, Furla's retail network has expanded to 255 stores in 73 countries. The Furlanettos grew their family business understanding the merits of innovative merchandise, effective displays, catchy windows and extensive service.

"Our father's precision with his payments, his respect for customers and suppliers alike were also inspirational values for us," said Giovanna Furlanetto, chairman and chief executive and a daughter of founder Aldo Furlanetto.

She credits another member of her family, her brother, Paolo, for the expansion of the brand outside Italy.

"Paolo was a tireless traveler and explorer, had enormous taste and intuition and had a more international, forward-looking vision," said Furlanetto. "Seemingly without effort, Paolo was ready to expand his horizons from the get-go and rose to the challenges of opening up to faraway markets."

Paolo spearheaded the opening of the second Furla boutique, in Rome, and the third, in Paris. Following that, he opened a boutique in New York in 1985. "At the time, the rest of the family didn't even realize what it meant to open a store on Madison Avenue," said Furlanetto. "Today, we are still in the same building, the only ones to remain from back then."

There are currently 28 boutiques in the U.S., 11 of which are directly owned.

Although Paolo died in 1989, his sister said he laid the groundwork for the brand's expansion in Japan, with the opening in 1990 of Furla's first boutique there, in Tokyo. That same year, the company created Furla Japan. "It was Paolo's intuition to approach the Asian market," she said.

Last July, the company opened its biggest store in Ginza, a two-story boutique covering 4,320 square feet. "This was our biggest investment ever," said Furlanetto, underscoring the importance of the "quality of locations."

The executive noted proudly that Furla boutiques sit on some of the most prestigious shopping streets in the world: Two stores are on New York's Madison Avenue; two are on Rome's Via Condotti and Piazza di Spagna, the square overlooking the Spanish steps; five are in Paris between Rue Saint-Honoré and the Champs-Elysées, and one is on London's Bond Street, to name a few.

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