Santa Maria Novella opens in Cape Town

The centuries-old Florentine perfumery and apothecary, Santa Maria Novella, has opened its first-ever store on African soil, in Cape Town's Cape Quarter shopping centre.

The centuries-old Florentine perfumery and apothecary, Santa Maria Novella, recently opened its first-ever store on African soil, in Cape Town's Cape Quarter shopping centre.

Michele Pretorius, a Cape Town-based retailer, discovered the brand on a visit to Florence two years ago, and promptly fell in love with it. She approached the company with a view to bringing the brand in Africa, and has since been named the "ambassador for South Africa", as well as the brand's representative throughout the continent.

The South African store is a concession, she explained, and not a franchise. "If you visit the original store in Florence" she said, "which is housed in an old monastery, there is a mural that represents the four continents – Europe, Asia, America and Africa. Yet, until the Cape Town store opened, only three of those four continents were truly represented. So now, there is a sense of completion, with Africa properly represented."

The store carries all the fragrance, and all the product lines, except the pharmaceutical products. The response from customers, Pretorius said, "has been very, very good. People have been so excited, and the word of mouth has been very positive." Prices are as close as possible to those of Italy, and can sometimes be cheaper, as the South African currency continues to weaken. Entry-level prices are at around ZAR 1300 for a 100ml bottle of fragrance.

Apart from the Cape Town store, Pretorius discloses that Santa Maria Novella fragrances are sold in a small shop in Durban, as well as a boutique in Stellenbosch. There are plans to open in Johannesburg in the future.

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