MILAN — Italy’s giant department store chain Coin Group said 2010 net profit climbed 8.8 percent to 48.2 million euros, or $63.6 million, compared with the previous year.

Lifted by a strengthened merchandising mix and the acquisition of the Upim retail chain in January 2010, sales in the fiscal year ended January 31 surged 38.1 percent to 1.73 billion euros, or $2.28 billion. Without Upim, sales rose 3.8 percent.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization gained 35.4 percent to 202.5 million euros, or $267.3 million.

Dollar figures are converted at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer. Net debt stood at 362.6 million euros, or $478.6 million, compared with 347.6 million euros, or $483.1 million, at the end of January the previous year due to the investments made to convert 67 Upim stores in the fast-fashion OVS industry and Upim Pop formats.

Coin has been converting a number of Upim’s 135 stores, more than 2.2 million square feet of selling space, most often centrally located in top Italian cities, into Coin and OVS Industry units, and upgrading image and product assortment. In July last year, designer Carlo Capasa signed a licensing agreement with OVS Industry for the production and distribution of a new line called Eequal, which bowed for spring 2011.

Coin’s controlling shareholder, Financière Tintoretto SA, which is in turn held by Paris-based PAI Partners and Fincoin, has said it is seeking “strategic alternatives to secure the best value of its stake in Gruppo Coin,” and has put the group on the block. Private equity firm BC Partners has taken a serious look, and private equity funds The Carlyle Group and Clessidra SGR SpA have also expressed their interest.

According to sources, Coin, whose expansion has been spearheaded by chief executive officer Stefano Beraldo, could be valued at 1.5 billion euros, or $2 billion at current exchange. Coin is the country’s largest clothing retailer, with plans to reach a total of 900 stores in the next three years.

The impending sale isn’t slowing Coin’s expansion. The retailer has teamed with Antonia Giacinti, one of Milan’s most exclusive independent stores, to create a new luxury department store called Excelsior, due to open in the fall.

Located in a former movie theater in one of the busiest pedestrians-only shopping streets in the center of Milan, in Corso Vittorio Emanuele, near the city’s cathedral, the building is being renovated by architect Jean Nouvel.

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