Excelsior Takes Off in Milan

Only three months after its opening in early September, Excelsior Milano, the new luxury multibrand store developed by Italian retail chain Gruppo Coin, has already become a shopping mecca. And footwear is a standout performer, according to the firm.

Located in a pedestrian-only area within a stone’s throw of the Duomo cathedral, the seven-story, 43,200-sq.-ft. building, formerly a movie theater, was designed by architect Jean Nouvel and is a collaboration with well-known Milanese retailer Antonia Giacinti.

The top floor of the shop is exclusively focused on women’s bags and shoes.

“The accessories area is performing very well and it’s considered one of the building’s winning floors,” said Massimiliano Nardiello, director of Excelsior Milano, who said international tourism has had a positive impact on sales. “Foreign customers still make impulse purchases. Instead, Italians look around, think about it, then maybe come back a second time and expect to get value for their money.”

The accessories space, which covers about 1,615 square feet, carries footwear collections from top designers, including Christian Louboutin, Pierre Hardy, Jimmy Choo, Sergio Rossi, Giuseppe Zanotti, Isabelle Marant and Manolo Blahnik, which is the only brand with its own corner.

“The floor reflects the concept of Antonia’s boutique in Brera, but here we have included many new names, such as Tabitha Simmons and O Jour by Giorgia Caovilla,” said Nardiello. “In addition to high-end, luxury labels, we also carry a selection of easier products offering good value for money for a younger target.” They include styles from Marc by Marc Jacobs, Church’s, HTC and Repetto.

Nardiello went on to add, “The idea of dedicating an entire floor to women’s accessories was determined by two reasons: On the one side we perceived a request coming from the market, on the other side Antonia is amazing when it comes to choosing accessories, so we wanted to reproduce her boutique’s winning format.”

Excelsior Milano puts a focus on offering flat, which represent about 50 percent to 60 percent of total sales. “Since the opening, we’ve sold 550 pairs of Repetto ballerinas, which are currently the strongest product in the store,” Nardiello said. “This reflects the fact that women realize femininity doesn’t rely on heels alone. Fashion is getting more transversal and women can play with their look depending on the occasion. In general, they tend to go for comfort during the day, limiting the use of high heels to the evening.”

Case in point is American actress Jessica Alba, who during a recent trip to Milan bought a pair of Repetto flats at Excelsior, while that same night she attended the opening of the new Giorgio Armani hotel wearing high heels.

Following the lead of international luxury department stores, Excelsior Milano is also working on organizing special events to help promote its brands and also offering additional services to its more loyal customers.

During Milan Fashion Week in September, the footwear floor hosted the first Christian Louboutin trunk show in Italy.

“We took the opportunity and we organized a cocktail party inviting 100 of the most addicted Louboutin customers registered on Antonia’s mailing list, who had the possibility to pre-order their favorite styles. This event was so successful that Manolo Blahnik also asked us to organize one for the next winter collection.”

While Gruppo Coin declined to provide specific financial data, the company said the store’s performances are in line with forecasts.

Stefano Beraldo, CEO of Gruppo Coin, said Excelsior Milano is expected to generate sales of 40 million to 50 million euros (or $53.1 million to $66.4 million at current exchange) in the first year.

BEST GROUP Photo by Angelo Lanza Sponsored By ITA

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