Longtime retail veteran Vittorio Radice, largely credited with revamping London department store Selfridges, has brought his savvy to 150-year-old Italian department store La Rinascente, where he is currently vice-chairman.
Born near Lake Como in the north of Italy, Radice was exposed to design at a young age by his father, who made furniture. After studying agriculture at university, Radice moved abroad and launched his retail career in America.
In 1990, he moved to the UK to become buying director at Habitat. At the end of a five-year tenure, Radice was leading the company and managed to turn the business around. It was later sold to Swedish furniture giant IKEA.
In 1996, Radice was headhunted to join Selfridges, the London department store owned by Canada’s Weston family, which he is widely recognized for reenergizing with a jolt of culture and coolness.
After a short stint at the British retailer Marks & Spencer, from which he was ejected, Radice joined La Rinascente, where Giorgio Armani , once dressed the windows, but which, in recent years, had stagnated. Starting in 2005, Radice initiated a major turnaround effort, closing down some stores, while revamping others in the distinct moulds of the cities in which they were located. Sales figures have since improved.
“Each [city] has its own department store — a place where you interpret the lifestyle of the region, the locality and attract tourists,” said Radice, whose stores vary in design and assortment from city to city – a café terrace overlooking a piazza in Florence, a specialty design department in Milan – to capture the unique selling point of each locale. “You need to take advantage [of your city] and become the store of the city. That’s what department stores should be, all over the world, so when I come to your city centre and want to go somewhere for a coffee, spend time, to go see new things and even buy new things, it should be your store.”