Eataly, which began with the idea that there should be a
place to buy, eat and study high-quality Italian food and wine,
has 25 food emporiums in the United States, Turkey, Japan and
The company, which plans to float shares in 2017, is taking
advantage of investor appetite for Italian companies that make
artisanal or luxury products. Milan's main stock market has seen
four share sales in the past three years and all have been
high-end consumer goods firms.
The 5,000 square-meter space, one of the chain's largest, is
important for the company as Milan is Italy's "most
metropolitan" city, where it previously had only one
250-square-metre store, founder Oscar Farinetti said at the
"From here we will branch out around the world, to Moscow, Sao
Paolo, London, Paris, Los Angeles," Farinetti said.
Shoppers queued outside the four-storey converted theatre, where
jars of pesto and pureed tomato lined the shelves and open-plan
restaurants offered cuts of raw meat and fish.
Farinetti said the company sourced local goods from the Lombardy
region surrounding Milan, in line with its stated aim to educate
people about what they consume.
"We have celebrated the beauty of agriculture and food in
Lombardy, which hardly anyone knows is Italy's most important
region for agriculture," Farinetti said.
Farinetti expects the shop, which resounded with the music of a
piano played on a balcony under a glass ceiling, to reach a
turnover of 40 million euros ($55.7 million) a year.
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"This is a flagship for the country," said 60 year-old retiree
Rosella Assandri, eyeing the fish counter. "Tourists can come here
and try new things and appreciate the best of Italy."
Products from tinned tuna to jars of pasta sauce made from hare meat
had placards explaining the origins of their brands, highlighting
the diverse nature of Italy's food industry.
"Behind this big operation is the work of thousands and thousands of
small artisans, that face challenges like bureaucracy but still keep
the image of Italy alive," said Carlo Petrini, founder of non-profit
organization Slow Food, which promotes the idea of sourcing
ingredients locally without harming the environment and treating
small producers fairly.
Other institutions in Italy, struggling to emerge from its longest
recession in seventy years, could learn from Eataly's example in
promoting part of the national identity, art critic and former
junior culture minister Vittorio Sgarbi told Reuters.
"How can we make the most of our cultural heritage? Look around
you," Sgarbi said, gesturing towards a kitchen area where aproned
chefs rolled dough into pasta shapes. "We could bring our artistic
heritage to life in this way too."
(1 = 0.7180 euros)
(Editing by Louise Heavens)
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