PARIS – Maurizio Borletti, chairman of Italy’s La Rinascente department stores, aims to propel France’s Printemps to the fore of European luxury retailing.

Borletti and a pool of investors said on Tuesday they are in exclusive negotiations to buy the department store chain from France’s PPR, the parent of Gucci Group, for 1.08 billion euros, or $1.36 billion.

The deal is subject to approval from European competition regulators and Printemps’ employee representatives.

“We will spend 280 million euros [$352.5 million] over the next five years to upgrade the locations,” said Borletti on Wednesday. “We want to ramp up the changes that Printemps already started in the last few years. We want to go fast.”

Speaking from his office in Milan, Borletti said he was attracted by Printemps’ massive patrimony, including its historic flagship store on Paris’s busy Boulevard Haussmann, which was founded in 1865.

But he said the chain – despite recent moves upscale – had room for improvement and could emerge as a shopping beacon along the lines of Harrods or Selfridges, in London, over the next few years.

For complete coverage, see tomorrow’s issue of WWD.

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