Italian retailer Gruppo Coin is seeking suitable UK locations to launch its department stores and fast-fashion chain OVS.

Coin is the biggest department store business in Italy. It has 81 domestic stores and a handful of shops overseas.

OVS is the Italian fashion sector market leader and generates sales of E804m (£704.5m). It has a network of about 360 shops, mainly in Italy.

Retailers including Primark, New Look and House of Fraser will watch Gruppo Coin’s progress with interest. OVS is well placed to cash in on the flight to value in the UK, but the group faces a competitive UK department store sector.

A Gruppo Coin spokesman said that the group was looking for UK locations, but added: “So far, it hasn’t found anything that may fit with Coin or OVS formats.”

MHE Retail chairman Edward Whitefield observed: “OVS is one of the best value-fashion retailers in Europe. The UK is one of the most professional and most competitive markets in Europe
and there are easier fruits to pick on lower hanging branches.”

In the year to January 31, Gruppo Coin’s net sales were E1.15bn (£1.01bn), a drop of 2.3% versus the comparable period. EBITDA fell 7.5% to E133.7m (£117.2m).

Listed on the Milan Stock Exchange, Gruppo Coin is majority controlled by private equity group PAI, which also has a controlling stake in Spanish fashion group Cortefiel.

In June, Gruppo Coin chief executive Stefano Beraldo said the group was forging ahead with 20 store openings outside of Italy this year. He added that expansion outside its home base would be done through joint ventures.

Coin was established in 1916 and opened its first shop in 1926.