GUCCI BECOME LVMH’S LANDLORD

MILAN — Could archrivals Gucci Group and LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton be, of all things, moving in together?
On Monday, Gucci Group confirmed market speculation that it purchased the sprawling palazzo on via Montenapoleone 12 — just the place where the new, LVMH-owned Christian Dior store is set to open in the first half of this year.
Sources said LVMH negotiated the lease with Generali, the insurance giant and former owner of the property, so it no doubt came as a surprise when Gucci swooped in as the new owner.
“It was pure coincidence,” said a Gucci spokesman, downplaying the rivalry with LVMH that stems chiefly from the French company’s failed takeover bid for Gucci two years ago. “It is really strategic for us to have real estate in Via Montenapoleone, one of the world’s most important fashion centers.”
A spokesman for Dior confirmed that the store was on track to open, but declined further comment.
While the Gucci spokesman said the space was more than 54,000 square feet, he would not confirm the price, which is reported to be in the neighborhood of $2.5 million. The palazzo is also home to the Corneliani men’s wear boutique and Il Salumaio di Via Montenapoleone, the delicatessen and trattoria in the palazzo’s cobblestone courtyard.
The Christian Dior boutique will be housed in the former Gerani store. Gerani, the high-end label owned by Gilmar, will move to Via Manzoni.
Meanwhile, back on Via Montenapoleone, Louis Vuitton is set to open a megastore on Jan. 31 in the former Versace space.

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