Il sole 24 ore - Luxury linens maker Bellora invests in retail and bets big on Asia


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“Mono-brand stores are a strategic option to grow abroad, as long as you open them in the right place and in the right Italian city, with no rush.” Andrea Lazzaroni, general manager of Bellora, explains the retail strategy of the historical high-end home linen brand founded in 1883 in Fagnano Olona (Milan). Since 2015 the company has been owned by Himatsingka, the Indian group working in the textile-clothing sector with a $400 million turnover, which has decided to keep design and production 100% made in Italy.

Less than a month ago, Bellora opened its first boutique in Rome right in the heart of the city (via Tomacelli) with official inauguration scheduled to take place in September. Up to this moment, the company had two smaller shops, one inside department store, La Rinascente, and one within the perimeter of Coin San Giovanni.

“It took us over two years to find the right location for our products outside typical tourism circuits, in a residential area in the center of the city, close to our clientele” said Lazzaroni. “The boutique in Rome is supposed to be the first step of a revamp plan that will affect not only our points of sale in the showrooms, but also our selling strategy and the approach to customers. We haven’t launched a new concept retail for the past 15 years,” he added. 

In 2015, Bellora’s turnover reached €15 million, with Ebitda jumping from 6% to 11.6%. Outside Italy, the company’s main destination market is China. “We have a three-year development plan for the opening of 12 stores, eight of which by the end of the year,” said the general manager. “We expect a double-digit increase in revenues for 2016.”

“Distribution is strategic, but everything begins with the work on the collections, which belong to accessible luxury. The collections for the bedroom and bathroom are doing great, and tableware is growing.” As for brand awareness, especially in Italy, Lazzaroni traced an extremely positive picture speaking of the collection created for the fidelity catalog of the supermarket group Esselunga: “Even the scented cards we designed to launch the project flew off the shelves, and we produced around 1 million of them.”

“There was also a positive effect on the visits to our website, which were up 40% just in one quarter. E-commerce is the retail channel of the future, and the temporary sales we launch on Dalani, an e-commerce website for homeware and furniture, are delivering excellent results.” In 2017, he concluded “we will expand our tableware collections, together with linen and cotton pajamas which are very important to boost exports, currently at 60%.”
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