Italian historic jeanswear brand Rifle recently opened its third new monobrand store as part of its relaunch strategy after the acquisition by its new majority shareholder, the Swiss private equity company Kora Investments (also read here).
The new 240-sq.-meter store is inside the Scalo Milano outlet, in Locate Triulzi, a few kilometers south of Milan, and offers both full price and discounted products in a high-ceiling, clean industrial design store that sells the brand’s entire denim and sportswear offer.
Franco Marianelli, chairman and CEO of Rifle, explained what’s next for the brand.
How is Rifle’s relaunch proceeding? What are its next plans?
After having mostly concentrated on our brand awareness and past 61 years of history, heritage and deep know-how we are now ready for some new evolutionary steps.
We chose not to reposition Rifle in terms of new target consumers or prices, but kept it as it has always been–a transgenerational brand that adults (most of whom are now grown-up Paninari), Millennials and whole families can appreciate.
We also chose to keep its prices affordable with a highly reasonable price-quality ratio. That means offering a pair of jeans at less than €100.
How can you be transgenerational through such a vast consumer audience?
We have launched our Capsule Heritage package aimed at our older consumers, but also appealing to the very young considering the huge comeback of many longtime bestselling brands such as Fila, Kappa, Best Company and Ellesse, just to name some. Since in those years the logo was the real must-have we have also focused on our historical logo, old graphics and packaging. We have so much material in our archives we might do loads of operations and new projects based upon our past history.
More specifically in order to be appealing to the very young we have also signed a contract with our brand ambassador, Briga, a rising star singer the young love like crazy, until the end of 2019. We chose to collaborate with this young successful singer as we believe that music and denim have so many aspects in common. As music is everywhere in our life and every moment, it gives us relief, fun and relaxation, also denim can be worn in every context and occasion–from work to leisure moments–mixed with a blazer or with a sweatshirt.
We also redesigned our collection and enlarged it. Now it offers 350 pieces including the 50 ones of our Capsule Heritage collection. Forty percent of its offer is aimed at women, a target we were not serving in the past. We have also started two new licensing agreements–one for footwear with Sport Commerce Italia Srl starting from s/s 2020 and one for underwear with Gieffe from s/s 2019–and two new ones will be added soon.
How is Rifle distributed and how will it further expand?
Before we opened this Scalo Milano store, we inaugurated two other monobrands–one in Catania and one in Sesto San Giovanni, near Milan. We collected great enthusiasm for the brand and received many requests to open more stores, especially in Southern Italy, all offers we are evaluating carefully. Our aim is to open about 15 new stores within the next three years.
We also operate through about 350 multibrand stores all over Italy. It is already a good achievement as when we acquired the majority of the brand only 160 stores were selling Rifle. Our aim is to reach 500 stores within the next two seasons.
What characterizes Rifle’s new monobrand stores?
To give greater visibility to our collections we want to open stores that measure between 80 and 120 sq. meters. All of our next openings will be characterized by our new minimalistic stores decorated with wood and iron elements and deeply tied to the brand’s own identity. Every element of the store is designed to make the product play a key role, be accessible and offer the easiest purchasing experience
The pulsating heart of each store is its Denim Wall, well visible and easy to access from every corner of the shop. Thanks to it each consumer can get to know better treatments, fits and details that make our products unique for both quality and price.
In a few weeks we will also install some plasma screens in this Scalo Milano store that on the one side can inform customers about what’s new and on the other it can also give them the opportunity to check personally sizes and variants of products available in store and also make online shopping operations or organize the shipment of their purchase directly to their address.
Will you also start outside of Italy?
We definitely want to concentrate on Europe, where the brand is already well known. By now we can confirm that we will first work in Ukraine and Slovenia by opening two stores respectively in Kiev and Lubiana in fall/winter 2019.
We have also started new agreements with local agents. Starting from f/w 2019-20 we have already distributed to Poland, Russia and Israel, while by s/s 2020 we aim to also expand in Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Greece and former Yugoslavia. Our aim is to grow all over Europe.