GUCCI TENANTS BRINGING SUIT

Byline: Luisa Zargani

MILAN — Just when its legal battles with Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy are wrapping up, it looks like Gucci Group is going to end up back in court.
Three shopkeepers — watchmaker Lorenz, men’s wear manufacturer Corneliani and the gourmet store Il Salumaio — have joined forces to sue the luxury group, which is their new landlord. Gucci is asking the three stores to leave the “palazzo” it bought last December at 12 Via Montenapoleone. Lorenz, Cornel-iani and Il Salumaio, who are tenants at that address, want to stay put, and are trying to buy back the building by asserting their rights of precedence. A spokeswoman for Lorenz said, according to Italian law, the three could have bought the building from the former owner, insurance company Generali, because they were renting the spaces long before Gucci ever came along. Generali, however, reportedly never gave them the option to buy. Spokeswomen for Lorenz and Corneliani confirmed the three are taking Gucci and Generali to court. Gucci said it had no comment on the proceedings, and the other parties involved were not available for comment at press time.
The spokeswoman for Corneliani said the trio is bringing suit against Gucci in Milan’s Tribunal Court. The three are protesting the circumstances under which the building was sold to Gucci.
Gucci is said to have paid $75 million, (150 billion lire) for the 54,000-square-foot palazzo, which is for retail and office space.
“The building has a wonderful courtyard and it is really one of the most beautiful properties in town,” Domenico De Sole, Gucci’s ceo, recently told WWD. “We haven’t announced specific plans yet, but I can tell you that we acquired number 12 to use the space, not as a foray into the real estate business. As we move forward and strengthen Gucci Group…it is essential that we guarantee in the long term the appropriate space for all of our brands.”
Lorenz, which is owned by the Bolletta family and reported sales of around $45 million, opened its store on Via Montenapoleone in 1934. The spokeswoman said the firm recently invested $250,000 in redecorating the space.

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