MILAN — Gucci Group is playing musical stores with its real estate on the city’s high-end Via Montenapoleone, and in the process is emerging as one of the most prominent players on the tony street.Windows of the Gucci brand have been a fixture on the street for years, but new boutiques for Yves Saint Laurent, Boucheron, Bottega Veneta and Alexander McQueen — all under the group’s umbrella — will open over the next few months and next year.In addition, the Gucci boutique is undergoing renovations and expanding its selling space. By the end of the year, when the work is expected to be completed, the Gucci boutique at number 5 and 7 Via Montenapoleone will be the biggest in the world, with 19,000 square feet, four floors and items from all divisions — a Gucci addict’s paradise. Although the store’s concept by Gucci Group creative director Tom Ford and architect William Sofield has not been dramatically changed, a few modifications have been created to update the boutique. A concrete floor with inserted river stones replaces the carpeting, and the crystal glass formerly used for windows and displays is now a darker brown. There is also new seating in different shapes and materials, such as a soft, buttery leather, crocodile-printed leather, ribbed mohair or velvet.The store opens onto Via Verri, on the corner of Via Montenapoleone, with Gucci jewelry in the windows. Meanwhile, on Via Verri, an Alexander McQueen boutique will replace the current Yves Saint Laurent shop. The McQueen store will open next year and cover 2,270 square feet.In the next few months, a new YSL boutique will reopen at 27 Via Montenapoleone, replacing a former Gucci site. The two-story boutique, also designed by Ford and Sofield, will cover 8,700 square feet.As part of the relaunch, expansion and retail strategy for Boucheron, the jewelry brand purchased by Gucci in May 2000 — a 1,200-square-foot boutique — will open on Via Montenapoleone, on the corner of Via Manzoni, in November. As reported, the Boucheron shop here is one of the 40 freestanding stores and in-store shops Gucci Group plans to open for the brand over the next three years, adding to 20 existing ones.The revamped accessories brand Bottega Veneta will open at 5 Via Montenapoleone, close to the Gucci boutique, taking the place of a bank. The 2,580-square-foot boutique is modeled on the concept stores in London and Paris that were designed by BV’s creative director, Tomas Maier, and Sofield. A spokesman for the group did not reveal the total amount of these investments, but said they were part of the roughly $200 million in capital expenditures announced by chief executive Domenico De Sole two years ago. All spaces are rented, but directly controlled by the group. The spokesman declined to elaborate about the existing Bottega Veneta store on Via Spiga or on the future of the building at 12 Via Montenapoleone that the group bought for about $75 million last year. That space currently houses Christian Dior and Corneliani boutiques, among others.
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