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investments in retail in Italy are growing

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After two years of pandemic, in which the number of private equity and venture capital operations in retail has suffered a setback, going from 33 deals in 2019 to 19 in 2020 (-42%), 2021 has started running again and signed 45 new deals (+ 36% vs 2019), equal to an invested amount of 557 million euros. This was reported by a note from Confimprese on the sidelines of the event in Milan dedicated to “Finance & Retail. The digital transformation and the impact on investments in retail”

In the first quarter of 2022, 81 new transactions were announced (72 in the same period of 2021), of which 5 in retail where Fra Diavolo and the Landoll Group (Nashi Argan) are registered as members of Confimprese (Pem-Private equity monitor data).

The Confimprese Associates currently owned by funds are 13, representing 41 commercial brands. Catering is predominant with 8 investee companies, followed by clothing with 3 and personal care / services with 2. In total they represent a turnover of about 1 billion euros and are, in the catering sector, Alice Pizza, Rossopomodoro, Cigierre, La Piadineria, Italian Chocolates , My Chef, Dispensa Emilia, Forno D’Asolo. In Conbipel, Pittarosso and Velasca clothing. In personal care / services Landoll Group and Facile.it.

From 2015 to 2021, 165 deals were made in retail with an invested amount of € 1.668 billion on a total market of 2,829 investments and 56 billion investments (Aifi-Pwc data). These data induce investors to consider retail companies as potential investment targets, to which it is necessary to provide capital and skills useful to support the development of multi-channels or services to be integrated with the traditional proposal, to grasp the potential they can express and exploit the current slowdown in online players, which in any case must be interpreted as a business lever and not as a threat.

“There is a synergistic relationship between finance and retail, with the former providing the necessary resources to stimulate the growth of commercial networks in Italy and abroad – explains Mario Resca , president of Confimprese -. The winning asset that can guide the private equity towards retail operations is the ability of retailers to combine the development of the physical network with the e-commerce proposal with strategies capable of integrating services to the simple resale of products. Even sectors, in which the physical point of administration seemed essential and as central as catering, today they offer usability of their products / services both on site and with home delivery formulas”.

However, the fact remains that Italian funds only invest in Italy and are still small compared to countries such as France, Spain and Germany. In 2021 France, which leads the top best performers, invested 27 billion euros (+ 53%) against 12.6 in Germany (-16%), 7.5% in Spain (+ 19%) and 7 of Italy (+ 33% – Aifi data).

Domestic funds must therefore shift gears and aspire to international operations. To do this, they must free themselves from the duration of the investment and focus not only on a medium / long-term project that takes into account the economic and financial variables of the country where they invest, but also on multifunctional teams able to take on the role of investor and of the manager.

“It is a challenge, which could allow the leap in quality both of Italian finance to overcome the cyclical nature of individual markets, and of Italian retail to grow on the international chessboard and raise the flag of Made in Italy that the whole world envies us”, Resca concludes.

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