Marketing to the Masters


Libby Banks | April 30, 2010

Foreign brands set their sights on the capital of luxury

Foreign brands set their sights on the capital of luxury

Paris finds itself in an unfamiliar position. In recent years, the city has watched on with pride as Paris-based luxury conglomerates like PPR and LVMH go forth and conquer a multitude of new markets and territories. Now, the tables have turned, as foreign brands eye Paris as their next target for expansion.

On the back of a quarter of record third-quarter profits Coach is readying itself to win the hearts and minds of Parisians. CEO Lew Frankfort announced plans to open at least 14 locations in Printemps department stores throughout France over the next three years, starting with a 1,700 sq ft boutique within the Printemps flagship on Boulevard Haussmann this June. Frankfort now faces the challenge of balancing the brand’s New York roots with a local environment bursting with luxury products and heritage.

When Ralph Lauren unveiled his flagship on the Left Bank earlier this month, he was in no doubt of how to play it. The 23,000 sq ft store could moonlight as the US Embassy, with a decor that straddles Colonial grandeur and sailing club, and a restaurant that serves clam chowder, hamburgers and Maine lobster. The result is one of Lauren’s most comprehensive brand statements to date.

And it’s not just US fashion brands, Asian hotel brands Raffles and Shangri-La have opened their European properties in the French capital by the end of the summer, while The Peninsula will have a Paris bolthole by 2012.

For many of these companies Paris is the first stop in a wider European expansion plan – but Paris is hardly gold rush territory. Of course these ventures will serve the brand’s international clients as well as tourists, but they also act as a as a daring strategy that resonates far beyond the City of Light. After all, if you can show the world that you can flourish in the lap of luxury, the rest should come easy.

Associated Press – 20 April 10
Newsweek – 19 March 10
Reuters – 20 April 10
WWD – 13 April 10