By Shane McGinley
The brand said it was looking at potential locations for its hospitality division
Italian fashion house Salvatore Ferragamo is considering expanding into the hospitality sector in the Middle East, following in the footsteps of rivals Armani, Versace and Missoni who have launched hotel plans in the region, a senior company executive told Arabian Business.
“We are not in real plans now but we are looking for some locations… We are open to expanding,” Giovanna Gentile Ferragamo, vice president of the fashion brand’s holding company and the second of founder Salvatore Ferragamo’s six children, said in an interview in Dubai.
The Ferragamo family established its hospitality arm, the Lungarno Collection, in 1995 and operates hotels, retreats, villas and luxury sailing yachts in Rome, Florence and Tuscany.
“What we have done in hotels up until now it is very much like small boutique hotels. I think in a place like [Dubai] you really need to do something on a larger, wider base. But we are looking to some possibilities,” Ferragamo added.
However, Ferragamo did rule out going into the night club business, like Italian rival Roberto Cavalli who has opened a club in Dubai and in 2010 signed a US$150m agreement with Lebanon-based lifestyle investment firm Pragma Group to launch 20 further Cavalli-branded clubs and cafes.
“I don’t think we are going to go in that area,” she said when asked of the possibility of a Ferragamo Club in Dubai.
The brand is not the first Italian fashion house to look to expand into the real estate market in Dubai. In 2004, Giorgio Armani signed an agreement with Dubai’s Emaar Properties – developers of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building – to design the hotel to anchor the mega skyscraper and has plans to open a strong of Armani-branded hotels in major cities around the world.
Developers are also aiming to have its AED2.3bn (US$626m) Palazzo Versace opened by the end of the year, although sources told Arabian Business last month the projects needs around US$60m in funding to finish construction and a completion date of 2014 was more realistic.
Rival Missoni has already opened a hotel in Kuwait and is planning further properties in Qatar, Turkey and Oman, while Elisabetta Gucci, the great-granddaughter of the famous Italian designer, announced in 2010 she was hoping to open up to 40 hotels worldwide, including one in Dubai.