21 Investimenti, an investment fund created by Alessandro Benetton, the current deputy chairman of the Benetton Group, is buying one of the biggest Italian shoe retailers, Pittarello, for an estimated €120 million, or the equivalent of its total sales for 2010.

The retailer has 44 stores in Italy and nine in Croatia. The company plans to double its retail network over the next five years by expanding in Central and Southern Italy and in other parts of Europe, especially in France, Switzerland and Poland.

There are two shoe retail chains named Pittarello in Italy, stemming from the same family. 21 Investimenti is buying the retailer whose logo is an elephant. The banner of the other Pittarello chain is symbolized by a hare.

The fund is entirely buying out the shares of four Pittarello brothers – Gianni Ivo, Pierluigi, Vittorio and Lorenzo – but then they will repurchase a 21 percent stake through a capital increase, reducing 21 Investimenti's stake to 79 percent. With the takeover, the fund brings in Andrea Cipolloni, who becomes Pittarello's chief executive. Cipolloni has worked for various retail companies including a big Italian chain of perfume shops, Limoni.

Pittarello sells more than 120 brands in stores generally ranging in size from 500 to 2,000 square meters.