La Rinascente

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la Rinascente s.r.l
Industry Retailer
Founded Milan, Italy (1865)
Headquarters Milan, Italy
Key people
Sudhitham Chirathivat (Chairman)
Alberto Baldan (CEO)
Products Clothing, food, household items, furniture
Revenue €375.5 million (2010)
Number of employees
1,529 (2010)
Parent Central Retail Corporation (2011-present)

La Rinascente (derived from Rinascita - means "rebirth" in Italian) is a Thai owned Italian retailer operating upscale department stores in the area of clothing, household and beauty products, founded in Milan in 1917 by Senatore Borletti from the merger of the businesses "Alle città d'Italia" and "Magazzini Vittoria".[1]

On May 27, 2011 Central Retail bought a 100% stake of the 150-year-old store firm for 260 million euros. "Our ultimate goal is to take it global and to be recognised all across Asia, be it in Thailand, China, Japan or Hong Kong," Chief Executive Officer Tos Chirathivat told reporters. Central Retail also planned new Rinascente stores in Italy and expected the takeover to break even within eight years.

Currently La Rinascente owns a chain of 11 department stores located in Italian major cities: two in Rome and one in Milan, Genoa, Turin, Florence, Palermo, Catania, Cagliari, Padova and Monza. The flagship concept store is La Rinascente Milano Piazza Duomo, in Milan.

Vittorio Radice joined the company in 2005 and is credited with its turnaround.[2] The retail chain is known for its collaboration with contemporary designers and architects such as Fabio Novembre, Future Systems, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and Vincent Van Duysen.[3]


The 'La Rinascente building in Milan, to the left of the Milan Cathedral

The Bocconi brothers opened a first clothing shop named Aux Villes d'Italie in Via Santa Radegonda (next to Piazza del Duomo, Milan) in 1877, inspired by Le Bon Marché - probably the first modern clothing store - which had been successful in Paris for some decades already. The business grew very quickly and within few years they opened stores in several more Italian cities. People were attracted by the then-new concept of exposing the clothes in plain sight and allowing customers to walk around the shop and "watch and desire". The Bocconi brothers, however, failed to support this advantage with a targeted commercial strategy, so the success was relatively short-lived. The onset of World War I worsened the decline and by 1917 the chain of stores was about to go out of business.

Instead the Bocconi brothers sold to entrepreneur Senatore Borletti, who went looking for ideas to relaunch the business. He hired decadent poet Gabriele d'Annunzio, arguably the most influential figure in the Italian culture at the time, to suggest a new public image for the store. The poet suggested La Rinascente (i.e. "she who is born again") as the new name, to symbolize the rebirth of the store but also, and more significantly, the rebirth of Italy at the end of a war which was causing widespread poverty. On Christmas night, 1918 - the first Christmas in peacetime - a short circuit caused the renovated main store in Piazza del Duomo to burn to the ground. When it opened again after being rebuilt, the name had a new meaning besides the original: that of a place which had been literally "born again" from its ashes.

The Borletti family kept ownership of the chain until the late Sixties. The stores have since kept the name suggested by d'Annunzio and are still very popular today among Italian citizens and tourists.[4][5]

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  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ "Rinascente, un "marchio" di d'Annunzio" [Rinascente, a "trademark" by d'Annunzio] (in Italian). Corriere della Sera. 2003-10-02. Retrieved 2010-12-11. 
  5. ^ "Dall'Italia affamata di cibo a quella nutrita di consumismo" [From the food-hungry Italy to the one nourished with consumerism] (in Italian). Storia In Network. 2006-01-01. Retrieved 2010-12-11.