Italian clothing giant expands into Switzerland

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ROME--Oviesse, Italy's largest clothing retailer, is planning to open two locations in Switzerland in a joint venture with Swiss department storechain Magazine zum Globus, with an eye toward further expansion next year.

The deal is the latest in a series of expansionefforts by Oviesse, which is part of Italian retail giant Gruppo Coin. In 1999, Coin bought and refurbished the 32 locations of the Standa chainin Italy, turning most into Oviesse outlets. Andearlier in September, the company said it wouldtake over 99 German retail outlets under he Kaufhalle name, a subsidiary of Metro AG.

Not counting the Kaufhalle takeover, which won'tbe finalized until the end of the year, Venice-based Oviesse now operates 180 locations, mostlyin Italy.

The company says the two Swiss locations wouldopen in Zug and Lancy, probably by early 2001. Ifthe stores are successful, Oviesse says it willopen more Swiss locations starting late next year.

"Our market research shows that Switzerland shouldbe receptive to a mid-price, fashionable store likeOviesse," a company spokesman says.

Oviesse is still working out marketing-related details with Globus, but the company confirms the newoutlets would sponsor heavy media buys in Zug andLancy before the stores open there, to inform potential customers about Oviesse.

"We realize we are a relatively unknown quantityin Switzerland," says the spokesman. "We'll startworking on name recognition a few weeks before weopen."

Although the two new locations will carry theOviesse name, Globus is by far the larger of thetwo retailers though Oviesse is growing faster.Oviesse sales last year totaled $337.8 million, up26% from the previous year. But Globus had 1999sales of $1.14 billion, a rise of 5% compared to1998.

Copyright September 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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