By  on December 27, 2001

PARIS -- Groupe Galeries Lafayette, the French retailer, will open a discount department store in a former Marks & Spencer's location here on Jan. 12, just three weeks after M&S shuttered its French doors.

Galeries Lafayette reached an agreement in October with the embattled British retailer to acquire each of its 18 French stores. In March, M&S said it would close all of its stores in continental Europe as part of a massive restructuring.

The new Galeries Lafayette door will be on Boulevard Haussmann, across from its existing Paris flagship store. Until August 2002 -- when the location will be closed through the end of 2003 for renovations -- it will provisionally include a selection of men's, women's and children's wear, plus home items, "all at incredible prices," Galeries Lafayette said in a statement.

Ready-to-wear for winter 2001, for instance, will have markdowns of at least 50 percent through Feb. 16, 2002. There also will be end-of-collection accessories on offer, and older stock, including fashion, lingerie, games and household items, will be sold at 70 percent off.

"It is not a definitive concept," explained deputy director of Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, Christoph Cann, referring to the discounts and the merchandise mix. He said the Haussmann location ultimately will be an extension of the Galeries Lafayette chain, though Cann would not divulge specifics.

Galeries Lafayette also will lease some of the former M&S locations to Sweden's fast-fashion chain Hennes & Mauritz. H&M will occupy three of the units and share space in seven other locations that will include Galeries Lafayette concerns, such as the Monoprix supermarket chain.

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