THE OUTLETS ARE COMING

Byline: Luisa Zargani

SERRAVALLE SCRIVIA, Italy — Next summer, Italy will have its first designer outlet. What was only a blueprint a few months ago is taking shape and, in an era of global partnerships, has become an international venture.
Backing the project are British, American and Italian companies, each holding one-third of the venture: BAA (British Airports Authorities), one of the largest owners of retail space in England and manager of several sales points at international airports; Washington-based McArthur Glen, which runs 27 outlets in the U.S. and 10 in Europe, and Fingen SpA, which manufactures Guess and Calvin Klein Jeanswear and has a 20 percent share in Van Cleef & Arpels. Fingen is owned by brothers Marcello and Corrado Fratini.
“We wouldn’t have come to Italy if it had not been for such a compatible partner as Fratini,” said Bryne Murphy, chief executive officer of BAA McArthur Glen, during the ground-breaking ceremony here.
“This is not only a financial investment,” said Jacopo Mazzei, ceo of Fingen Real Estate, a division of Fingen. “There are strategic reasons that make this an excellent marriage, because of the Fratinis’ experience in fashion and their extensive real estate presence in Italy,” said Mazzei, adding he met Murphy while negotiating spaces for Calvin Klein and Guess stores at McArthur Glen outlets in England. “We realized the outlet concept could work in Italy, too.”
As reported, the outlet will be an hour from the cities of Turin, Milan and Genoa, but at the same time not too close to them, in accordance with Italian law.
“It’s a strategic and accessible location, connected by highway to the most important cities of northern Italy,” said Luca de Ambrosis, general manager of the Italian branch of BAA McArthur Glen. The joint venture plans to open four other outlets in Italy, one every two years. “By law, we are required to have a two-year interval between the openings, and the outlet centers must be spread around the country and not close to each other.”
The venture plans to invest $438 million (converted from Italian lire at current exchange rates) in five years and expects revenues from the first center to be between $55 million and $82 million within a year.
The Serravalle outlet will cover 486,000 square feet, on a three-million-square-foot parcel, for a total of about 150 stores.
In addition to apparel lines, the outlet will offer sportswear, housewares, stationery, local products, books and electronics and a food court. Prices will be discounted from 30 to 70 percent for clothes from the previous seasons.
“We help designers sell their remainders, excess and end-of-season merchandise,” said de Ambrosis, who pointed out the outlet does not compete with the network of official retailers. “We are a guarantee for both consumers and designers, and help maintain the integrity of the brands.”
The minimum lease period is 12 years. Rent prices will be in the range of 10 percent of the client’s total sales.
De Ambrosis did not disclose a list of designer labels that will be available at the outlet.
“We protect the image of the brands and never announce names in advance,” said Murphy. BAA McArthur Glen outlets in the U.S., England, France and Austria list such designer names as Giorgio Armani, Ermenegildo Zegna, Iceberg, Benetton, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Nike, Reebok, Guess and Gap. Murphy added that he expects three million visitors to the Serravalle outlet during the first year.
During the ground-breaking ceremony, BAA McArthur Glen presented the model of the outlet, designed by architect Guido Spadolini, in typical local yellow, red and ochre shades.
“We intend to respect local architecture,” said de Ambrosis.