Italian department store operator Coin Group is set to become the leading distributor of apparel in the country.

“Thanks to the acquisition of Upim, Coin will become Italy’s leading distributor of apparel. This project, together with other initiatives we are pursuing, might bring Coin Group a €2 billion turnover in three years,” said Stefano Beraldo, Coin Group CEO, outlining the company’s plans following the completion of its acquisition of Upim (see our previous report on Jan. 5, “Coin Buys Upim”).

The move is a significant one, given Upim’s network, which currently consists of 149 direct stores (134 Upim and 15 BlueKids), 30% of which have prime locations in the crucial cities of Milan, Rome, Florence, Naples and Turin. The average Upim store also measures 1,300 sq. meters, in line with the Coin’s own format, for a Group total of 210,000 sq. meters and 800 stores.

Coin, whose turnover was about €1.2 billion in 2009, is now looking to increase sales of Upim by 30%; in 2009 Upim’s turnover was €430 million (it also reported a loss of €43 million and owes €150 million to banks). The group’s projects currently include transforming 50-60 Upim direct stores into OVS Industry stores by August 2010; 10-20 will become Coin stores by 2011, while 60-70 stores will stay as they are. All 15 BlueKids stores, however, will be converted into OVSKids.

Meanwhile, some locations will be converted into luxury department stores. By September 2011, a space previously home to the Excelsior theater on Milan’s Corso Vittorio Emanuele, will become a new 3,500-sq.-meter Coin Excelsior upmarket department store competing with the likes of La Rinascente nearby.

Said Beraldo: “Some stores will become concept stores according to the Coin Excelsior concept store. We already recognized two-three locations that might be redesigned according to this concept. Every store will be dedicated to a different theme with extraordinary contents and with the support of brands that best represent those contents. The themes will be leather goods, accessories, jewels, luxury, technology, travel experience and sporty lifestyle.”

On rehabilitating the Upim brand name, he said: “We will create a new logo that can better interpret the new philosophy of our concept. We have launched a competition via the Internet for the redesign of the logo. The winner will be chosen by a special jury made up of Elio Fiorucci, sociologist Francesco Morace and me.”

“My idea for this new store concept is a city-based shopping mall where one can find everyday-use objects,” added Beraldo. “Everything will be affordable, in some case, extremely profitable. We will take care directly of apparel and home decor under Upim’s already appreciated Croff sign and cosmetics. Our doors will be open to welcoming specialists in most different segments such as eyewear and travel goods, footwear and coffee. Our idea is to relaunch the idea of “emporium,” where brands and formats can be hosted in corners or shops-in-shops, [with] electronic devices, mobile phones, hobbies, bookstores, music, plus, obviously, the merchandise categories Upim is already selling. And, finally, the buying experience will be totally refreshed thanks to a new sign, a new logo, shop windows, new interiors, decor, mood and music.”

—Maria Cristina Pavarini