By  on October 18, 2006

BEVERLY HILLS — Salvatore Ferragamo opened a renovated Beverly Hills flagship this month to reveal a lighter, brighter side.

The formerly staid, under-lit interior of the 10,000-square-foot Rodeo Drive store has been enlivened with luminous limestone floors and walls and sleek, architectural display pieces rendered in walnut wood.

"Some of our older stores had just white walls, but we're in the luxury segment," said company president Vincent Ottomanelli. "There's nothing like showing an alligator bag against limestone."

Ottomanelli declined to give sales figures for the store, but said, "To compete, we need to stay at the top of our game. I think the renovations are going to continue to keep up the pace of the revenue growth we've been seeing. Our company is refocused on investing in our stores."

The revamp, which closed the Rodeo Drive store for more than three months, is integral to Ferragamo's plans to modernize its more than 450 stores in some 55 countries and establish a visual retail template for future locations.

Ferragamo overhauled boutiques in Waikiki, Hawaii, in January, and in Costa Mesa, Calif., in July, and opened in June at the Pier at Caesars in Atlantic City. All reflect the new aesthetics.

The company also launched a store in Dallas' NorthPark Center this month and will unveil a unit in the Mall at Millenia in Orlando, Fla., by the end of October. Ferragamo plans to renovate its boutique in Las Vegas next year, where it is eyeing a second store.

"There are so many locations where we're not in where we ought to be," Ottomanelli said. "We're not in Phoenix or Boston or Orlando, and many of our competitors are there, so we [need to be] there." Ottomanelli said the company is close to signing a lease in Boston's Copley Square.

The boutique here is "completely brand new, from the walls to the ceiling to the floor," said store manager Jon Borland. "Our customers thought the old store was beautiful, but this really highlights the product."

Ottomanelli said the store, which he estimates is the second-highest revenue-grossing unit for the brand after the New York location, is "extremely important to the company. Not many people know this, but the brand was essentially born in California. Salvatore had his first store here, the Hollywood Boot Shop….The new store makes quite an impression on Rodeo Drive. We want that stamp to be there, nice and clear."

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