MILAN — Italian midmarket retailer Gruppo Coin SpA has taken control of mass market store chain Upim Srl, creating a giant retail group that will count 900 stores.

This story first appeared in the December 18, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Through a capital increase, Venice-based Coin will give a 7.5 percent stake in the new group to Upim investors, which include the Borletti family, one of the owners of high-end department store chain La Rinascente, equity fund Investitori Associati, Deutsche Bank Real Estate Opportunities Group and real estate group Pirelli RE. As part of the agreement, before the deal can be completed, investors must reduce Upim’s debt by 52.5 million euros, or $76.3 million at current exchange. Coin, which is controlled by PAI Partners, declined to provide the total debt figure.

Coin, which also owns the OVS brand, said the acquisition is “an extraordinary opportunity” as it allows the company to expand its store count to other locations, several of which are of “excellent quality.” The deal will also make Coin a leading clothing retailer in Italy and improve efficiency of the group.

Upim, with annual revenues of about 430 million euros, or $625.4 million, operates 135 Upim units and 15 BluKids children’s wear stores, in addition to more than 200 franchised stores. The DOS Upim stores will be turned into OVS or Coin stores, while the franchised stores will keep the Upim banner.

The deal is expected to close by January.

In 2008, Gruppo Coin, which is listed on the Milan Stock Exchange, reported sales of 1.14 billion euros, or $1.67 billion at average exchange rates. On Thursday, Coin shares closed up 4.18 percent at 4.61 euros, or $6.7. Upim is not a public company.

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