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Frette Heightens Profile

Three weeks after its acquisition by a private equity firm, Frette is moving forward to capture a broader audience and establish itself as a multi-channel retailer.

The luxury Italian linens brand is now owned by JH Partners, a San Francisco-based firm that invests in consumer and marketing-driven companies with revenues of $10 million to $300 million. Among its other holdings are the retail chain Design Within Reach, the Chef's catalog/e-retail business, and Jurlique skin care products, stores and spas.

"Our shareholders are in San Francisco, but we are still an Italian company," said Filippo Arnaboldi, director of marketing. "Our headquarters is still in Italy and all our product is made in Italy. We are not making product in China."

Earlier this month, Frette opened a free-standing store in Palo Alto, Calif., its ninth in the United States. The company is now scouting locations in Texas, Florida, Nevada, and Long Island and could eventually expand to 15 stores, according to Arnaboldi. The company also operates 43 freestanding House of Frette stores in Italy, and various franchises in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

Its new e-commerce site, www.frette.com, is in soft launch and will begin accepting orders Nov. 6. "Frette.com is an extension of our retail business," said Frette ceo Enrico Marinelli. "We have developed a website that's accessible, easy to navigate and shop, in addition to evoking a sense of feeling and mood."

Merchandising on site and in the latest catalog places Frette in more contemporary and trendy settings — such as urban studios — to attract the younger luxury customer. Also in that direction, the company just introduced a new collection — Indulgence — which offers a more contemporary look at price points ranging from $500 to $900 for a king bed set.

"The core business is doing very well, but it is not yet the taste level of the younger customers," said Arnaboldi. "What we're trying to do is broaden the customer a little bit."

Within the core, Frette has taken the wraps off its spring/summer 2007 collection, which is inspired by Belgium and the Lowlands.

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