A growing passion for "Bella Italia"

07.02.2003

A much prized market: More and more foreign chains are making themselves at home in the Italian pet market. Following the German Futterhaus Group, the French garden centre chains Botanic and Jardiland have now also made the crossing over the Alps

The trend that is now emerging was foreseeable: in Castorama, OBI and Leroy Merlin, international DIY store chains have been operating in the Italian market for years. As the example of OBI Italia demonstrates, there is a growing inclination among these companies to include pet products in their ranges. No wonder: compared with the pet trade in the UK, Germany and the Benelux states, the landscape in Italy is still fairly unstructured. At the same time, the Italian pet market has been growing for years, and the number of pet owners is far from having reached its peak. Good reasons, then, for expanding into Italy! Botanic, one of the leading French garden centre groups, has now dared to take the plunge into Italy and has established an Italian branch based in Turin under the direction of Jean-Marc Riva.
Botanic, founded by Claude Blanchet in 1995, currently operates 39 garden centres in France, achieving sales that surpass the 200 mio euro mark substantially this year. The company, which is based in Archamps, a stone's throw from the Swiss-French border, occupies a strong market position in eastern France and also along the Rhone. From a regional supplier that has concentrated on the Savoy region and the Lyon area, Botanic has blossomed in the space of a few years into a strong garden centre group that is highly esteemed in France.
The company has also got off to a strong start in Italy; this autumn Botanic Italia has opened two test stores in Montebello della Battaglia and Vercelli. The development of these two outlets is to be closely monitored. Although Botanic is already on the lookout for suitable new sites, no decision regarding further possible new openings in Italy is expected to be taken until next year. Partnerships with existing Italian garden centre operators are not ruled out, according to Jean-Marc Riva in an interview with the Italian trade journal "Green Up".
Botanic is not the only French company intending to expand into Italy. The Jardiland franchise group, the market leader in France with over 100 garden centres, is said to be making efforts to become involved likewise in Italy in the future. A first store is said to have opened already in Reggia Emilia, between Parma and Modena.
The German franchise company Futterhaus, which will have around 100 stores by the end of the year, is also feeling the urge to go to "Bella Italia". Following the opening of two markets in recent years in Bozen and Trento, in South Tyrol, a new Futterhaus is expected to open its doors in Verona next spring. maj
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