By  on October 6, 2006

MILAN — Ten months into a restructuring plan and La Rinascente is already showing evident signs of a rebirth.

While it remained open throughout the renovation, the Milan flagship of the Italian department store chain will officially unveil two newly decorated floors — its accessories and beauty sections — on Oct. 19 with a rock-remix party.

As part of his seven-year plan to revive the store, Vittorio Radice, who was appointed La Rinascente’s chief executive officer last year, has succeeded in drawing top designer brands from Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Dolce & Gabbana to Fendi, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior and Salvatore Ferragamo, raising the store from a midtier to a high-end designer range. Major changes in the interior design also mark a new era for the store, with marble replacing linoleum floors.

“These are only the first steps of the next 100 — it’s only the beginning,” stressed Radice in an interview. “We’ve cleaned up the building, which is located in a prime, fantastic area. We redid the entrance, the ground and mezzanine floors and changed the layout, worked on the lights, and highlighted the rows of white columns to recover the store’s original dignity.”

La Rinascente, which dates back to 1865, was acquired last year by Tamerice Srl, a consortium led by the Borletti family, who owned it before the Agnellis, for 888 million euros, or $1.13 billion at current exchange. This summer, the Borletti Group, together with RREEF, the fund overseeing La Rinascente’s real estate portfolio, also bought the Printemps department store in France from Gucci Group parent PPR.

La Rinascente’s Milan flagship, overlooking the city’s cathedral and in one of the busiest shopping and tourist areas, is the company’s crown jewel. “It’s a beautiful position in the heart of Milan and it’s the first store of this kind in Italy — the first concept of a grand magasin [department store] here that shows an evolution of luxury retailing, with high-end brands under the same roof,” said Jean Baptiste Debains, general manager of Louis Vuitton Italia, which will open a shop within the department store that will extend from the ground to the mezzanine floor. Louis Vuitton will carry a range of accessories, from handbags and travel cases to eyewear and watches.

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