8 December 2021
The Weekly
Italy
Rinascente's Unveiling Christmas Windows

Rinascente unveiled its holiday windows at the Milan store, located across the Duomo cathedral.

As the score “The Nutcracker” played in the background, a couple of professional dancers flanked by a crew of young ballerinas entertained the audience gathered under the colonnaded arch waiting for red curtains to be lowered and reveal the windows’ installations. The holiday theme is ‘Finding Christmas’, a nod to customers’ desire to celebrate festivities (last year Rinascente moved its traditional ceremony online). For this year’s holiday season the retailer partnered again with Lemax — a Chinese company specialized in music boxes and miniatures — to develop a series of windows at seven of its flagships, including Milan, Turin, Florence and Palermo, among others, re-creating enchanted Christmas villages with white slopes, moving trains and carousels, which required some 100 days to realize. Imposing nutcracker statues are placed throughout the windows, while lighting installations covering the stores’ facades additionally embellish the Milan flagship and other banners.

Rinascente continues to support San Gregorio Armeno, a historic street in Naples known for local artisan ateliers specializing in handmade figurines, for nativity scenes, installing them in the windows of the Roma Tritone and Roma Fiume units. Rinascente offers the windows’ decorations for sale on the sixth floor of the Milan unit, which is dedicated to holiday and Christmas-themed knickknackery. The seventh-floor food court offers a wide selection of gourmet dishes and traditional holiday pastry including, of course, the Panettone. Marking a first for the department store, Rinascente conscripted Tuscan artist Virgilio Villoresi to develop a stop-motion short movie inspired by “The Nutcracker,” which “turned out so beautiful that for the first time in our history we’re airing it as a TV commercial,” said Rinascente’s CEO Pier-Luigi Cocchini.

Although Rinascente had the exact days of store closures registered a year earlier and despite that, the company is expecting year-end figures to jump up 20%. Due to lockdown measures in 2020 its revenues plummeted 40%, but they are now on track for recovery. Ongoing travel bans and reduced mobility are still impacting footfall at Rinascente’s store network. In 2020 touristic flows were halted, denting around 35% of the company’s sales versus 2019, but year-to-date Pier-Luigi said Europeans, Americans and visitors from the Middle East are returning en masse to the city, with non-Italian footfall increasing four to five times compared to 2020. With no Chinese visitors in town, that’s still half the number of tourists it welcomed pre-pandemic.

A latecomer on the omnichannel arena compared to its international competitors, Rinascente is quickly picking up, with e-commerce and on-demand services expected to generate some €30mn in sales this year. The retailer launched an e-commerce platform in mid-2020, showing financial prowess amid the pandemic, and the channel should exceed €10mn in sales in 2021. The company started its omnichannel transformation well before the pandemic by introducing an on-demand service four years ago that allows clients to stay in touch with sales assistants, browse the product assortment — including luxury products — and finalize their purchase via WhatsApp or email. The company didn’t hold back on investments during the pandemic. P.L.Cocchini proudly mentioned renovation works for the third and fourth floors, as well as the jewellery section at the Milan flagship and the partial revamp of the Florence and Turin units. In the first quarter of 2022 the unit will unveil a fully renovated Roma Fiume unit, which represents the third best performing banner within its network.

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