MILAN — René Caovilla is in expansion mood.On March 28, the Italian luxury company will celebrate the opening of its largest boutique in the world, a 1,076-square-foot flagship located inside the prestigious Dubai Mall Expansion.Developed in collaboration with local partner Chalhoub Group, the store opening marks the official debut of the brand’s new retail concept, conceived by M2atelier, a Milan-based architecture and design studio founded by Marijana Radovic and Marco Bonelli.“Dubai is traditionally a location with an extremely varied audience and this space will enable us to easily showcase the full range of our product offering,” said Edoardo Caovilla, chief operating officer and creative director of René Caovilla.In keeping with the label’s roots, the Dubai store, featuring a peculiar dome echoing the petticoat cages of 18th-century skirts, combines materials which are typical of the Venetian tradition, including gold, polished wood and marble, with a fresh, contemporary design.According to Caovilla, the opening of this flagship inaugurates a retail strategy, which will see the debut of stores in Las Vegas, Miami’s Bal Harbour, and two additional locations in Hong Kong, in the last quarter of the year. In November, the company also opened a boutique in São Paulo.“Our stores are performing well all around the world,” said Caovilla, referring to the company’s 14 units located in North and South America, Europe and Asia. “Over the last decades, stores, which were previously considered only places where brands were finalizing transactions, are becoming the field where a brand has the chance to build solid relationships with its customers. We are particularly proud that we are succeeding in creating those kinds of relationships, which is something confirmed by the fact that 90 percent of the purchases made online on our site follow a phone call between the final customer and our specialized team.”In keeping with this strategy aimed at building a solid brand awareness within its audience, René Caovilla will unveil, during the event in Dubai, a series of short movies, called “Made in Caovilla,” which are filmed inside the company’s historic factory in Fiesso d’Artico, in the heart of the Riviera del Brenta footwear district.“Since we are sure of the fact that a product can be judged on the basis of objective aspects, our ultimate goal is to educate our customers about a certain product culture and quality,” said Caovilla, explaining the company’s decision to invest in this kind of communication tool.Highlighting the artisanal approach and craftsmanship informing each creation, the videos show the manufacturing process executed in the company’s factory, which was recently revamped because of a significant investment of 2.5 million euros. At the same time, the company, which has a turnover of 40 million euros, is making important investments in the digital field, focused on “increasing our ‘iReputation’ with a more appealing web site” and implementing its data analysis technologies.In keeping with an evolution strategy aimed at attracting new customers, Caovilla said he expects to introduce bags and custom jewelry in 2020.“We are approaching the idea of brand extension extremely carefully since we think that when you launch something new for your label, you have to deliver items that are actually even better than your core products,” said Caovilla, revealing that the René Caovilla bags and accessories will be still positioned in the luxury segment, but with lower retail prices than the shoe offering. The average price of a pair of René Caovilla shoes is around 1,000 euros, 25 percent more as compared to seven years ago. While Caovilla didn’t hide the fact that he is frequently approached by potential investors, he also said the family will evaluate the possibility to list René Caovilla when the company reaches a turnover of 100 million euros, presumably within three or five years. WWD reported in 2016 that Caovilla was eyeing an initial public offering.“In the meantime, we will remain completely independent or mostly independent,” added Caovilla, who didn’t exclude the option to open the capital to a minority investor in the next few years.
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