DEAUVILLE, France — Department store chain Printemps has transformed its smallest store in France into a colorful concept store aimed at wealthy holiday-makers, in a preview of the new format it will roll out on a larger scale at its New York flagship, set to open next year.
The 12,900-square-foot store in the seaside town of Deauville is set to reopen on Friday after a five-month renovation that involved knocking down walls and opening windows to give the neo-Norman style building, originally constructed in 1912, the feel of a lush private home.
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“It’s a store that will become a memorable and essential destination in Deauville,” said Printemps chief executive officer Jean-Marc Bellaiche. “It’s our first store of this kind. It’s really a unique concept.”
Printemps has scrapped brand counters in favor of a cross-merchandising approach, eliminating any labels that are available elsewhere in town and replacing them with a selection of 300 brands, of which 85 percent are exclusive to the store and 85 percent are new.
It has a sales staff of 40, including six personal shoppers, all of whom are directly employed by the retailer and trained to sell across categories including womenswear, menswear, watches and jewelry, shoes, beauty, gifts and homewares.
Bellaiche touted it as the latest example of Printemps’ strategy of rolling out unique concepts, such as the temporary rooftop café it opened recently in partnership with jeweler Messika at its Boulevard Haussmann flagship in Paris.
“There is always a more intimate side, a more human side to what we do compared with our competitors, who are sometimes too big or too diverse,” he said.
“This store is also taking a risk,” Bellaiche added. “Deauville will give you a foretaste of what New York will be like. New York will represent an even bigger investment, particularly in terms of architecture, but in terms of offer, in terms of rationale, it will also be a very large concept store rather than a department store.”
Spread over two floors, rooms are decked out in bright hues inspired by local landscapes, with mosaic floors set off with carpets in oversized motifs drawn from the Printemps archives.
The curved outline of the clothing racks is inspired by traditional local furniture, and shelves are dotted with thrift store finds, including a battered brown hat box and a yellow sewing machine.
New features include an atrium with 33-foot-high suspended sculpture consisting of 1,500 brass leaves, 80 ceramic magnolia flowers and LED lights.
Sophie Bocquet, chief network officer of Printemps and its urban apparel chain Citadium, said the Deauville store caters to an affluent crowd made up of 43 percent tourists, 22 percent people with second homes in the area, and 35 percent local residents.
Its average basket of 250 euros was already the highest of its regional network in France, and Bocquet expects the renovation to boost annual sales by at least 25 percent.
“This store is a real game-changer. It’s something that’s never been done, either at Printemps or elsewhere. We practically started from a blank page, as if we were opening a store and not reopening it,” she said.
With products ranging from hostess gifts such as 95-euro Guerlain candles, to a giant ceramic urn that retails for 1,050 euros, the store is an impulse shopper’s delight. “Deauville is synonymous with pleasure, so when you come to Deauville, you really want to treat yourself or someone close to you,” Bocquet said.
When the location originally bowed in 1912, it marked the first time any French department store had opened a branch outside Paris, noted Stéphane Roth, chief marketing and communication officer at Printemps.
It was built at the same time as the Normandy hotel across the street to cater to a growing leisure class, drawn by attractions including a casino and a racetrack.
Printemps renovated the facade of the listed building between 2017 and 2019, and has replicated its timber structure in the décor of the watches and jewelry department on the first floor, which is now flooded with natural light. The floor is also home to shoes and beauty, including a treatment room offering FaceKult facials.
On the ground floor, clothing and accessories from labels including Burberry, Céline, Chloé, Courrèges, Jacquemus, Khaite, Loewe, Miu Miu, Prada and Valentino sits alongside items like Cire Trudon candles, Baccarat crystal objects and a porcelain edition of Jeff Koons’ Ballon Dog (Blue) sculpture by Bernardaud that retails for a cool 50,400 euros.
There is also plenty of casual fashion on offer, from Carhartt, Diesel and Levi’s, to Erès and Atalaye swimwear, embroidered beach dresses from Benaras by Citrus, and summer-ready footwear from K. Jacques, Ancient Greek Sandals and Alohas, among others.
Among the selection of vintage clothing and accessories in the Second Printemps room is a hard-to-find black Hermès Kelly bag, while the retailer’s own Saison 1865 label offers accessibly priced contemporary styles with a sustainable bent. “It’s a selection worthy of a world capital, both in terms of quality and creativity,” Roth remarked.
Already France’s second most popular destination for conferences, Deauville should receive a visitor boost next year when the region marks the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings. And next September, Printemps will partner for the first time with the Deauville American Film Festival.
“We are betting on the fact that Deauville will continue to see strong international growth. It already has a very high visibility,” said Bellaiche.
He said Printemps is considering opening similar stores in other French cities, although the offer might be tweaked in line with the location’s potential. “We believe that a smaller format brings us closer to the customer,” he said.
Group comparable sales at Printemps were up 25 percent year-on-year in the fiscal year ended in March 2023, according to Bellaiche, and remain down 2 percent versus the year before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Printemps has 16 department stores, including one overseas branch in Doha, Qatar; nine Citadium stores, and four e-commerce sites: printemps.com, citadium.com, fashion e-commerce site Place des Tendances and online homewares retailer Made in Design.
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