Eataly opens gastronomic megastore in Milan on way to listing

Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:34pm EDT
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By Isla Binnie

MILAN (Reuters) - Sundried tomatoes and seabass tartare tickled tastebuds in Milan on Tuesday as upmarket Italian food hall chain Eataly opened a flagship store, the latest step in its plan to expand and list its shares on the market.

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 Dubai.

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 event.

"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.   Continued...

People gather during the opening day of upmarket Italian food hall chain Eataly's flagship store in downtown Milan, March 18, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo