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Borletti Clan Back At La Rinascente Italian Store Chain

MILAN — It’s a homecoming of sorts for La Rinascente.<BR><BR>The Borletti family, who founded and owned Italy’s main department store before the Agnellis, won control of La Rinascente SpA over the weekend with a bid of 888 million...

MILAN — It’s a homecoming of sorts for La Rinascente.

The Borletti family, who founded and owned Italy’s main department store before the Agnellis, won control of La Rinascente SpA over the weekend with a bid of 888 million euros, or $1.15 billion. The Borlettis formed a consortium, Tamerice Srl, with Pirelli’s real estate division, Pirelli Re SpA; Deutsche Bank Real Estate Global Opportunities, and private-equity fund Investitori Associati SGR.

The Borletti-led consortium beat French department store chain Galeries Lafayette and property company Beni Stabili, backed by Luxottica chief Leonardo Del Vecchio, among others.

Eurofind Textile — a joint venture between Ifil, an investment company controlled by the Agnelli family, and French retailer Auchan — put La Rinascente up for sale last fall.

Maurizio Borletti — a grandson of Aldo Borletti who, together with his brother Senatore, created La Rinascente in the Twenties — said in a phone interview Monday that he believed Tamerice won the bidding because the consortium was “very close-knit, with experts in both real estate and retailing.”

Borletti said the fact that Tamerice did not want to break up the group’s activities, unlike some other bidders, was a winning factor with Eurofind. “We must create value developing the company as it is and restore it once again as a leading department store in the world,” said Borletti, who plans to raise Rinascente’s product and image from a mid-tier to a high-end range.

“We want to expand the offer of designer brands and also present a unique and different shopping experience, something that cannot be found anywhere else in the world,” added Borletti, who headed porcelain and silverware company Christofle in the Nineties.

Before expanding the number of stores, Borletti believes a priority is to work on the existing ones. “We are lucky to have beautiful locations in Milan, Florence and Rome. I want to create excitement around the store close to the Duomo [Milan’s cathedral], for example, make it a meeting point during fashion week, a place to see new trends,” he said.

The group operates 18 Rinascente stores and 148 mass market Upim stores in Italy.

This story first appeared in the March 15, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Last year, La Rinascente, including Upim, reported net profits of 9 million euros, or $11.7 million at current exchange, on sales of 925 million euros, or $1.2 billion.

In a statement, Ifil said the deal will be finalized by June and that the sale will help Ifil post a gain of 500 million euros, or $650 million. Ifil chief executive officer Daniel John Winteler said he was pleased with the agreement, which allowed the group to “give continuity to our plans to develop La Rinascente…to promote high-quality products and build a real window for Made in Italy products in the world.”

At the end of 2003, the Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc. formed a joint venture with Rinascente Group to own, manage and develop shopping malls in Italy. That deal was limited to the food division of the group. Last September, Eurofind split the Rinascente Group into two divisions — La Rinascente SpA and Societa’ Italiana Distribuzione Moderna, which comprises the food division and was sold to Auchan.