H&M Gets OK for Champs Elysee Unit

Fast fashion retailer wins zoning battle.

PARIS — Swedish fast-fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz has finally won a Champs-Elysées address, ending its two-year battle with French authorities.

This story first appeared in the September 26, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

On Wednesday, France’s Conseil d’Etat (Council of State) quashed an appeal by the Paris mayor’s office, which tried to overturn a French commission’s decision to allow H&M to open an outlet on France’s famed avenue. The mayor’s office had argued that yet another large-scale fashion store would damage the street’s prestige.

The Conseil said it found no legal reason why H&M should not open on the street, which is already home to fast-fashion rivals such as Zara and Mango.

A spokeswoman for H&M, which operates 109 stores across France, said the 28,000-square-foot store, stretching from number 82 to number 90 Champs-Elysées, would open in 2010. H&M also confirmed French architect Jean Nouvel remains on board to design the location, which is within a shopping gallery.

The decision bodes well for other retailers, including Abercrombie & Fitch and Dolce & Gabbana, which have applied for permission to open on the street.

However, the Comité des Champs-Elysées, a nonprofit association that promotes the avenue, said it remains steadfast in its goal to maintain a balance of different sectors and not become just a fashion destination. “If there were only cinemas opening on the Champs, we would be saying the same thing,” said Edouard Lefebvre, general manager of the Comité.

The Champs-Elysées, which draws more than 100 million visitors a year and whose tenants include luxury names such as Cartier and Louis Vuitton and mass-market chains such as Monoprix and McDonalds, is the third most-expensive retail location in the world, after Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue and Causeway Bay in Hong Kong.