MILAN— Connecting the biggest European department stores in one group was Vittorio Radice’s “personal ambition,” and the vice chairman of La Rinascente is taking this aspiration one step further with the launch of a new network called Aux Villes du Monde and an innovative online shopping tool.In order to support remote purchases, AVDM has introduced the On Demand service, which means customers connect with personal shoppers through WhatsApp, request the availability of the products they have selected and buy them through the accepted means of payment.“People are much more informed, and we are able to supply customers that know what they want,” explained Radice on Tuesday on the top floor of Milan’s La Rinascente flagship, overlooking the Gothic Duomo cathedral. “This service is easier to run and more satisfactory. There is no need for a catalogue of 100, 200, 300 pages. We are just extending what is happening in stores.”According to Pierluigi Cocchini, chief executive officer of La Rinascente, this “is a new form of purchase,” and he said the company has hired a new team of salespeople to this end. The service has been tested since July and he said that “redemption has been 15 percent out of the total requests, which is very high.”Cocchini explained the requests had mainly been made for women’s accessories, and handbags in particular. As for its return policy, he said that, so far, two out of 300 products were returned. “We are happy and we obviously hope the return rate will always be low, but our strategy in this sense is no different from the brick-and-mortar experience.” Products are delivered in the same day in Milan, and from two to five days in the rest of Italy and abroad.AVDM includes the other department stores that La Rinascente’s parent group, Thailand-based Central Retail Corp., controls: Central Chidlom & Central Embassy in Bangkok; the new La Rinascente Rome flagship opening on Oct. 12 in Rome; KaDeWe in Berlin; Oberpollinger in Munich; Alsterhaus in Hamburg, and Illum in Copenhagen. The Goldenes Quartier in Vienna has also agreed to participate.Radice noted that the AVDM services are potentially inclusive of other retailers without the need to buy them. “Others are interested in joining AVDM through an affiliation,” he observed. Asked about further expanding the group, Radice said if opportunities should arise, the group would not pass on evaluating them, but he did not reveal if there were any potential acquisitions in the pipeline.La Rinascente’s stores in Italy are able to access the assortment present at the Duomo venue, and the online On Demand service is being extended to the other stores, such as the Bangkok banners next month, for example.Radice said the French name of Aux Villes du Monde was chosen for two reasons: when La Rinascente was founded by Ferdinando Bocconi in the 19th century, it was originally named Aux Villes d’Italie, and the moniker is also a tribute to the birth of the first department store, Le Bon Marché (now owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton), created in 1852 in Paris.The AVDM project also includes a digital lifestyle magazine in eight languages dedicated to the cities that house the stores. It is developed within the headquarters of Condé Nast Italia in Milan by an international staff. It’s a digital city guide accessible from the web sites and on social media channels of the AVDM department stores. There is a semimonthly newsletter tipping readers to the best locations and experiences, and a personal concierge service that can plan individual city tours, for example. There are six slots daily, free of charge, to sign up for the concierge service.Speaking from Bangkok in a video call, Tos Chirathivat, ceo of Central Group, underscored the theme of “centrality” that helps connect the different communities and expressed his openness to link with other department stores and "create an alliance."
Yuwadee Chirathivat, ceo of Central Department Store Group, said "the idea is connecting the world, with 360-degree service to customers. Running department stores is not easy and we want to make it easy to shop, that’s why we are introducing the On Demand service."
Stefano della Valle, chief operating officer of Europe Central Retail Corporation, underscored the “patrimony of knowledge” the stores offer customers, with more than 500 years of experience combined. KaDeWe is 111 years old; Oberpollinger is 112 years old, and Illum is 125 years old, to name a few.Despite the slowdown of department stores in the U.S., the group’s management stands behind the format. “They will remain an important venue to visit, where you can hang out and buy dreams,” said Radice.La Rinascente last year reported sales of 520 million euros, with single-digit growth, said Radice, declining to provide a specific figure. Central Retail Corp. took control of the Italian department store chain in May 2011 with plans to expand globally.
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)
Breaking News: @hedislimane joins @celine as its new artistic, creative and image director. One of fashion’s preeminent image-makers and trendsetters, Slimane is to join the LVMH brand on Feb. 1 and unveil his first fashion proposition for men and women next September during Paris Fashion Week. It marks a major homecoming for Slimane, who cemented his reputation – and influenced men’s tailoring for more than a decade – as the designer of Dior Homme between 2000 and 2007. He went on to reinvent and ignite the house of Yves Saint Laurent, which he rechristened Saint Laurent, between 2012 and 2016 – all the while maintaining a close relationship with the Arnault family, which controls LVMH and Dior. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
“Personally I believe the Eighties have been the richest and more vivacious period for international fashion,” Giorgio Armani said when asked what his favorite decade of fashion is. It was a moment of disruption and experimentation and only thinking back to the first years of that decade is always an emotion for me, for what they have meant to me and my work.” The influence is clear in @giorgioarmani spring 2018 collection, pictured here, which was full of bright colors and unexpected prints. Read more about which decades designers loved most on WWD.com #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
For Lady Gaga’s only Italian show on her “Joanne World Tour,” the singer wore a range of @versace_official outfits. The standout piece: this custom-made bodysuit inspired by the brand’s spring 2018 collection. #wwdfashion (RG: @ladygaga)
@_camillaruth_ is expanding on the wellness-craze concept with @westbourne – a new NYC restaurant that’s both a healthy-minded café as well as a business that gives back to the community. Marcus works with the Robin Hood foundation to give back to The Door, a non-profit providing youth development services, and also hires employees through The Door. Read our full interview with Marcus on giving back through food on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)