By  on July 18, 2007

FLORENCE — Bottega Veneta celebrated its newest store in the heart of this Renaissance city last month.

The luxury goods company moved from its former location on the Arno River to the central historic Palazzo Tornabuoni-Corsi, a regal building that most recently housed a bank.

The two-level, 3,900-square-foot space carries accessories, footwear, women's and men's ready-to-wear and a small sampling of furniture.

"We didn't have such a great space here before," Patrizio Di Marco, chief executive officer of Bottega Veneta, said here recently during Pitti Immagine Uomo. "When this palazzo became available, we took it. Its beauty and refinement is very much in line with Bottega Veneta."

Bottega Veneta incorporated into the landmark space its sleek and rich signature interiors — Ultrasuede presentation pads, mohair furniture upholstery and custom-dyed, pure New Zealand wool carpets — while maintaining the building's historic details.

The store's piece de resistance is a handsome marble stairwell, which at one time led down to the bank's vault. That space now houses men's rtw and furniture.

"Perhaps because we are a company built on craftsmanship, this space felt like a gift," said creative director Tomas Maier. "It's a renowned historical building, designed by a brilliant architect, with many original interior elements intact....There's nothing we like more than adapting our store design to an extraordinary space."

In the first half of the year, Bottega Veneta has opened 14 stores, including a new unit in Shanghai. Di Marco said a few more were expected in the second half.

Although the boutique here houses the entire range of Bottega Veneta, Di Marco said the company's store merchandising strategy was based on the specific space and the needs of the local markets.

Bottega Veneta, which reported sales of 85 millions euros, or $114 million, in the first quarter of the year, has 109 directly operated stores worldwide.

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