with contributions from Bruno Artigue
 on July 13, 2010

PARIS — Aiming to become a bigger player in the lucrative leather goods market, French supermarket chain Monoprix has tapped former LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton leather goods specialist Vincent Sartel to design a collection of bags.

The first designs just entered stores, with new deliveries planned twice monthly until the end of December. Sartel said the challenge was to create a beautiful product with Parisian style at an affordable price point.

Prices range from around 40 euros to 100 euros, or about $50 to $130 at current exchange.

“Monoprix is not a lifestyle or fashion store,” Sartel said. “It’s a convenience store. Does it have the legitimacy to sell bags for 100 euros? I’m convinced it does. It needs to mark out its territory.”

While primarily a grocer, Monoprix also sells general merchandise, including hardware, apparel, cosmetics and products for the home. Textiles account for about 14 percent of total sales.

Owned jointly by Casino and Groupe Galeries Lafayette, Monoprix posted 2009 revenues of 3.66 billion euros, or $5.11 billion at average exchange rates, and operates about 400 stores. The retailer gets about 800,000 visitors a day.

For 13 years, Sartel worked as creative director of leather goods for Louis Vuitton, then artistic director for Loewe before setting up an independent leather goods design studio, Atelier du Sartel, in 2006. Brands he has worked with since include Maison Martin Margiela, Mango and Ermenegildo Zegna.

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