Maurizio Borletti, a descendant of La Rinascente’s owners since 1917, said he had “launched an appeal” for Italian bids, but a source said he will not be able to block the sale.
The offer from Central, which came in before Monday’s bid deadline, would include 45 million euros (B2 billion) in La Rinascente debts.
The Italian group, which has its headquarters and a flagship department store in Milan’s central Piazza Duomo, has 11 shops across Italy.
The company became one of the symbols of Italy’s post-war economic miracle and was at one point owned by iconic auto giant Fiat. It has since sold its food outlets and closed down several major department stores.
It now sells mainly womenswear and high-end cosmetics and accessories.
The company’s name means “She who is reborn”, the name chosen by Senatore Borletti when he bought the ailing company from its founders, Luigi and Ferdinando Bocconi in 1917.