A book in two parts recounts the history of the Rinascente department store company, setting out its culture, layout, development and strategies

 

The culture of a company is built up over time, based on management highs and lows, by means of mistakes and successes, through the men and women of the business. And it is always important to hear about the histories of the factories which have developed their sense of manufacturing along with their communities. This is also true for the companies which focus on retailing and which, in respect of certain aspects, can sometimes have more direct links with the marketplace of the end-consumer.  This is the case for the Rinascente. A department store par excellence, this company has clocked up a hundred years of history by living through differing economic cycles and always succeeding in finding renewed resources with which to stay in contact with its market. And not just that. The Rinascente has been and remains one of those companies which has stamped its mark on the Italian market, on its habits and styles of consumption, and on the growth of the country in the post-War period onwards. This is a history which is useful to know. And it is therefore important to read what has been written and copy-edited by Franco Amatori in the two volumes dedicated to this company’s birthday celebration: “100 anni della Rinascente” (100 years of the Rinascente).

Amatori (who teaches economic history at the Bocconi University), has composed a history across several aspects and written by several authors, succeeding in setting out the evolution of one of the key companies in the Italian economy and custom and without hiding its periods of difficulty.

The book is composed of two very distinct parts. The first volume tells the story of the Rinascente from 1917 (the year of its foundation) up to 1969. This involves a narrative which places great importance upon the origins and on the company model (based on the name whose conception was attributed to Gabriele d’Annunzio), but also upon the context in which the Rinascente sees the light of day and evolves. Everything up to the crisis of the relationships at the top of the company. The second volume starts from 1969 and continues up to the present day. In this part the writing is composed by several authors and again extends its scope to the economic and social environment in which the Rinascente is active – the development of different commercial avenues, the situation in Europe -, as well as to several particular aspects of the company organisation such as the attention paid to its image and to its internal and external communication. This section highlights the traits of an “unconventional” company which has stamped its mark on crucial aspects of the consumer economy in Italy. In this part there is no attempt to neglect the vicissitudes of the layout of ownership, the relationships with the trades unions, or the difficulties of a significant and complex restructuring.

This is a collective literary effort, and the book copy-edited by Amatori is one of those which can be read almost as a company novel from different perspectives or instead as an accurate analysis of economic history. “100 anni della Rinascente” (100 years of the Rinascente) should nevertheless be read by anyone who wishes to understand an important part of Italian company history.

 

 

100 anni della Rinascente (100 years of the Rinascente)

Franco Amatori (copy-edited by)

Egea, 2017

28/11/2017