PARIS — Le Bon Marché has a gleaming new take on accessories.
Aspart of its five-year renovation, launched in 2012, the Parisdepartment store has unveiled revamped accessories and watch departmentson its ground floor, with a large number of new brands and exclusivesdesigned to up its fashion quotient.
“Accessories are aflourishing category for the store,” said Fabienne Ruset, accessoriesdirector at Le Bon Marché. “This is a key step in our global strategy.”
Spreadover close to 13,000 square feet, the recently completed accessoriesfloor has been reorganized to better highlight products thanks tocurved, wide aisles and original display units, such as cases containingclear glass vases draped with necklaces in the fashion jewelry section.
Thewalls made of grooved white wood accentuated with geometric lines ofshiny metal provide a unified backdrop throughout, while vintagefurniture — such as Tulip chairs and tables by Eero Saarinen — create anatmosphere reminiscent of an elegant private apartment.
“Wereally wanted to completely revisit the flow of the space. Before, wehad a lot of nooks, it was a lot less airy,” said Ruset, adding that thelayout was inspired by an aerial view of a French formal garden.
Dominatingthe main entrance on Rue de Sèvres is a large central aisle devoted totrends that displays leather goods, shoes, hats, jewelry and scarves in aspirit similar to a concept store. To its left lies a semiconcealedcircular hat “boudoir” with pale cloud-patterned walls painted by artistMathias Kiss.
The theme of the trend area will be updated twice aseason, with brand representatives periodically coming in to presenttheir wares. For the holiday season, the theme is Baroque ’n’ Roll, tobe followed in early 2014 by Soft Architecture and Neo-Mexicanism.
Theaccessories offer has been whittled down to 128 brands, of which 40 arenew to the store. The latter include Azzedine Alaïa, Delvaux andVictoria Beckham in leather goods; Dominic Jones and Lizzie Fortunato injewelry; Piers Atkinson in millinery, and Wisp and Glen Prince inscarves.
Le Bon Marché has discontinued high-turnover handbaglines including Furla, Gerard Darel and Sonia Rykiel to bring inup-and-comers such as Thom Browne, Rauwolf, Rocio and Sara Battaglia,which have performed well. The top handbag sellers are Valentino, Alaïa,Delvaux, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Pierre Hardy, Ruset said.
Sheestimated that exclusives, including products specially developed for LeBon Marché, make up 30 percent of the accessories lineup. These will berotated on a seasonal basis.
“We want to offer a selection thatyou can’t find elsewhere,” she explained. “The idea is to become anessential destination for each product category.”
Salesprojections for 2013 have been adjusted to reflect the impact of thepartial closure of the accessories floor during its eight-monthrenovation, but revenues so far this year are up — except for scarvesand gloves, which have stagnated due to unusually mild weather thisfall.
“We are all aware of the economic situation right now, sofootfall is down slightly. But the positive effect of all theserenovations is that we have been able to increase our average baskets,”noted Ruset.
This is especially true in the 7,000-square-footwatch department, opened in June in a space that can be directlyaccessed from the store’s Rue de Babylone entrance. It houses 28 brandswith eight shops-in-shop, including new additions Rolex, Breitling,Hublot and Piaget, and La Galerie Imaginaire Horlogère, a space foralternative brands like MB&F, Slyde and Kubik.
Other featuresinclude a private lounge and workshop where customers can order acustom-made Camille Fournet leather watchband, have their timepiecerepaired or attend presentations hosted by brands.
“We areextremely satisfied with the watch department, which is posting resultswell beyond our expectations,” said Ruset, noting that the departmenthas sold a number of Rolex and MB&F watches in the range of 65,000euros to 85,000 euros, or $89,500 to $117,050 at current exchange.
Upnext is a fine jewelry section, set to open by fall 2014. “We areworking on a very surprising lineup of designers that are extremelyexclusive and not that well-known, which will be the strength of ourdepartment,” said Ruset.
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