MILAN — The troubled global economy doesn’t appear to be curbing Roberto Cavalli’s appetite for entertainment and lifestyle projects.

This story first appeared in the December 21, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The designer and Lebanon-based Pragma Group said they have a licensing agreement to open five Cavalli Clubs and 15 Cavalli Cafés in the next five years in cities across the Middle East, Asia-Pacific and South America, including Beirut; Istanbul; Mumbai, India; Shanghai, and São Paulo.

In the first two years, two Cavalli Clubs and three Cafés will open in five cities. In the second, three-year, phase, 10 venues will be unveiled in other locations. The investments will be financed through a fund dedicated to expanding Pragma Group’s lifestyle business.

There are existing Cavalli Clubs in Florence and Dubai — the latter also in a deal with Pragma — in addition to a Just Cavalli Club in Milan and three Cavalli Giacosa Cafés in Florence.

“The Cavalli Club Dubai represents probably the best interpretation of the lifestyle I have been creating with my fashion,” said Cavalli, who celebrated the brand’s 40th anniversary this year. “Together with the experience of the Pragma Group, we will further expand the network of clubs for entertaining my followers in some of the most important cities in the world.”

Pragma Group, which focuses on lifestyle and technology, is an investment, outsourcing and business incubator with a portfolio of international companies in technology, telecommunications, marketing, hospitality, entertainment and venture capital. With operations in its Beirut headquarters, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Jordan, Pragma Lifestyle has launched clubs, restaurants and catering businesses such as Lina’s Cafe, The 400 Nightclub, Bo House, Epicure Catering, Le Talleyrand restaurant and Health Factory.

“We are making a substantial investment to facilitate this expansion, and this is being conducted on the back of extensive research that has revealed a real hunger in the emerging markets for the branded lifestyle experience,” said Pragma Group chairman Joe Tabet.

Cavalli’s first club opened in December 2008 in Florence in a 15th-century deconsecrated church with a lounge bar and a restaurant, followed in May 2009 by the opening of the designer’s namesake club in Dubai, which, with its opulent Italian restaurant, sushi bar and nightclub, cost almost $30 million. Connected to the Fairmont Hotel in the heart of the city, it features floors made of black quartz, 20-foot-high ceilings with Swarovski Elements and furnishings in Cavalli’s trademark animal prints. There are also a range of Cavalli Club-branded home accessories, from lamps and cutlery to china and glassware.