By  on May 31, 2007

MILAN — While it seems most retail openings lately have been in the Far East, Louis Vuitton is equally focused on its European network.

The French luxury house inaugurated a new, larger shop in Rome last week. The 2,500-square-foot space is doors down from Vuitton's former home on the tony Via Condotti. The two-floor boutique carries a range of bags, footwear and small leather accessories, as well as Vuitton eyewear and timepieces.

"After nearly 20 years in Rome with a successful business, [we] were looking for a larger space to further increase the level of service to our customers and bring in new product categories," said Jean-Marc Gallot, president of Louis Vuitton, Europe.

Based on its current Peter Marino store concept, the Rome flagship features an illuminated "bag bar" and is anchored by a stylish staircase fitted with LED video screens that broadcast iconic Vuitton images. "Rome is unique, and that's why we wanted to build a very special store," Gallot said.

While the French executive noted much of the Rome business was tourist-driven, he said locals represented an increasingly important percentage of sales. "Over the past few years, we have been experiencing a very strong development of local clientele throughout Italy," Gallot said.

The Vuitton executive added that "old Europe" continued to show positive growth, especially France, Italy, Germany and the U.K. He said the luxury brand was also ambitiously building its retail network in Russia, the Ukraine, Scandinavia and in southern Europe. "Europe is a key strategic zone for Louis Vuitton," Gallot said. "Our development in this region has been very important in the last few years."

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