Italian Luxury Retailer Coltorti Acquired by Korean Group NHN Commerce – WWD

MILAN — Italian luxury multibrand retailer Coltorti has a new partner.

NHN Commerce, a global distributor and licensee of brands in the fashion and beauty sector in South Korea, has acquired a majority stake in the family business, which was established in 1934 in Jesi, in Italy’s Marche region.

Details on size of the stake have not been disclosed, but the South Korean group subscribed to a 10 million euro capital increase of Ikonic Srl, which is Coltorti’s parent company.

Maurizio Coltorti, who represents the third generation of the founding family and who has led the international expansion of the business, will retain “a significant minority stake,” according to the company, as well as the role of director. Managing director Riccardo Bilancioni will be promoted to chief executive officer.

“Investing in a company like Coltorti represents a unique opportunity for us. We were attracted to this firm for its reputation in the luxury sector but also for its ability to have an innovative vision of luxury retail. We want to ensure continuity and development for Coltorti and I am convinced that thanks to the excellent future prospect I see for this business it will lead us to new levels of success,” said Yoon-sik Lee, CEO of NHN Commerce.

“This deal will allow us to tackle new ambitious projects together, intended to innovate the way we sell fashion and luxury products,” echoed Bilancioni.

“The goal is to preserve the value and history of Coltorti, offer our customers an increasingly personalized shopping experience and further strengthen our relations with luxury brands,” added the CEO, highlighting that the deal “will ensure continuity of the strategic plan” the company had already tabled before meeting the new partner.

“There’s nothing revolutionary here, rather an evolution of Ikonic,” Bilancioni told WWD, right after signing the deal on Wednesday. “The interesting part is that our plan has not been [changed]: what we already had in mind to develop has been totally accepted and valued [by NHN Commerce]. Now we have the certainty to have the resources to realize it, plus the confirmation that our strategies were adequate.

“So change is not what will happen from tomorrow onward, we will keep doing what we’ve always done, that is guaranteeing the brands’ immersive spaces with engagement tools of customers that are respectful of the brands’ values ​​and at the same time that enable us to offer a high-end customer journey,” continued Bilancioni.

Yoon-sik Lee, Maurizio Coltorti and Riccardo Bilancioni.

Yoon-sik Lee, Maurizio Coltorti and Riccardo Bilancioni.

Courtesy of Coltorti

The plan is to enhance Coltorti’s presence online, its brick-and-mortar network and international expansion as well as overall image and brand equity. The ultimate, ambitious goal is to reach 200 million euros in sales by 2027. The retailer, which has four physical doors across Italy, generated revenues of about 70 million euros last year. 

Launched in 2015, Coltorti’s e-commerce accounts for the majority of sales, distributing the retailer’s selection of men’s and women’s luxury clothing and accessories, as well as beauty, books and lifestyle products from more than 200 brands in 102 countries. While Bilancioni didn’t disclose specific figures on online sales, he said these are mainly generated by customers in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region and in the U.S.

The retailer looks to further raise the potential of the platform by leveraging the new partner’s expertise in tech. NHN Commerce is part of the NHN technology group, which has a strong portfolio in businesses including gaming, cloud IT, fintech, digital payments and entertainment contents. Listed on the Seoul Stock Exchange, NHN reported a turnover of $1.6 billion in 2022 and boasts collaborations with companies such as Sony, Reebok and Shinsegae, to name a few. 

A restyling of Coltorti’s platform will kick off at the end of this year and be part of a broader rebranding, which will be celebrated with an event during Paris Fashion Week in February 2024, also to mark Coltorti’s 90th anniversary.

“It won’t be only a stylistic refresh of a banner, but the opportunity to reconfirm and strengthen our values,” said Bilancioni. “To have a beautiful box of desirable brands is no longer enough. We did a conceptual shift from products to message. And we will send out that message with this move.”

It is intended that the rebranding will come with a renaming, too. “I don’t have the need to have my surname written somewhere,” said Coltorti. “This was already part of the strategic plan and accepted by the family before meeting our new partners, because to have a more international profile, a different name — less linked to the family and history — [works better],” he said. “Our sector is experiencing a moment of great transformation and this must be interpreted in the best way: we need to become partners of brands, and we need to have the standing to do that.”

Maurizio Coltorti

Maurizio Coltorti

Courtesy of Coltorti

Following the rebranding, the retailer will gradually expand its brick-and-mortar footprint abroad. It will plant its first international flag in Andermatt, in Switzerland, in fall 2024, when it will open a 6,458-square-foot location. The goal is to unveil three other units in the next three years, prioritizing high-end resort destinations, said Bilancioni. 

The CEO underscored the new stores won’t be mere displays of products but will engage with customers via the implementation of events, artistic showcases and community-building activities. To this end, Coltorti and NHN Commerce look to create a content hub with a dedicated editorial team and artistic curatorship.  

Product-wise, Bilancioni confirmed that “collaborations, capsule collections and private labels are all included in our strategic plan.”

Riccardo Bilancioni, ceo of Coltorti.

Riccardo Bilancioni, CEO of Coltorti.

Courtesy of Coltorti

“The identity of Coltorti is the assortment, the point of view on the men’s and women’s wardrobe and objects and on everything that surrounds our target client. This is the strength of a multibrand retailer. We’re freer. We have to respect the values of brands but, when we employ grace and the power of creativity, we are allowed also to stretch them. And this is an exercise this group has been doing for a while, and we have been acknowledged for,” concluded Bilancioni.

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