By  on December 20, 2000

BERLIN -- The global standardization of Louis Vuitton stores is continuing apace in Germany with the opening this month of a 5,000-square-foot global unit on Kurfurstendamm, this city's key shopping boulevard.

The new store offers the full range of Louis Vuitton luggage, small bags and leather goods, men's and women's apparel and footwear. It replaces the now-closed 850-square-foot shop on Fasanenstrasse, which first opened in 1986, and joins a 600-square-foot Louis Vuitton in-store shop for bags and leather accessories in Berlin's leading department store KaDeWe.

Louis Vuitton, owned by French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, operates 10 doors in Germany. The Berlin store is the company's fourth global unit in the country, after Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich. And it's the largest, said Gianluca Brozzetti, Louis Vuitton president and managing director.

Brozzetti, flanked at the opening by Francois Steiner, president of Louis Vuitton Europe, and Claus-Dietrich Lahrs, director of Louis Vuitton Germany, would not disclose the company's sales in Germany, nor make first-year projections for the new unit here. The three executives, however, were all optimistic about the outlook for Louis Vuitton in Germany, including Berlin, which is one of the country's more difficult retail markets. The capital city generally underperforms the rest of Germany, but according to Lahrs, Louis Vuitton is already considering opening a third door in Mitte in the former eastern part of the city in the next two or three years.

"Berlin is certainly not so flashy or glamorous as Dusseldorf, Munich or Hamburg, but there's serious money here and it's fine for us," Lahrs remarked. "I am more than convinced that Berlin will be a very important city for the luxury business in the next five years, and it's already strong. It's the most dynamic city around for young, hip people."

"We were quite surprised when we opened the shop-in-shop in KaDeWe two years ago," Steiner added. Even though it was less than a mile from the Fasanenstrasse store, "we doubled our business overnight, selling to different customers. And every time we open a global store [in Germany], we're faced with a huge demand for ready-to-wear and shoes.

"Our image in this country seemed dated," he continued. "It didn't include the new items. But as we've seen in Frankfurt, Munich and Dusseldorf, when we enlarge our stores, providing the full range and more visibility for the product, our sales increase. We are fairly confident about Germany," Steiner stated.

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