Thor Equities snapped up a prime piece of Parisian real estate — 51-53 Boulevard Haussmann.
The six-story building, which boasts 100 feet of frontage on Boulevard Haussmann, is directly opposite Printemps and near Galeries Lafayette. A bustling local Metro station has 8 million people passing through per year.
Thor reportedly paid United Colors of Benetton $140 million for the building. Benetton, which opened in 2004, offers a different brand on each of the building’s levels. “Benetton will vacate this year,” said Melissa Gliatta, executive vice president at Thor Equities. “This paves the way for a retail flagship.”
Thor, which purchased the property with Ares Management LLC, is hoping to lease the entire building to a single tenant. Because it’s equipped with escalators, “it could be a small department store,” Gliatta said, adding that potential tenants could include a European or American retailer entering the Parisian market for the first time.
“Maybe they’ve been in Galeries Lafayette with a shop-in-shop,” she said, “or they’ve been in London, but haven’t been in Paris yet. We’ll also look at tenants that have done well in other parts of Paris.”
Thor has been expanding into foreign markets such as London, where it bought the Burlington Arcade and installed a Chanel accessories boutique, among other shops.
The Boulevard Haussmann property is Thor’s second acquisition in Paris and third in France. The company in November 2013 bought 65 Champs-Élysées for an estimated 260 million euros, or $344 million. Thor also acquired a string of storefronts in Cannes, France, which were leased to Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Brioni, Burberry, Yves Saint Laurent, Emilio Pucci and Paule Ka.
Thor is one of New York City’s more aggressive real estate investors, with significant retail holdings in Manhattan’s key shopping areas. Trophy properties include the former Takashimaya building at 693 Fifth Avenue, which Thor in 2010 acquired for a reported $142 million.
In 2013, Thor leased 20,000 square feet on four levels to Valentino for a flagship.
Thor’s strategy at many properties has been leasing space to luxury tenants, while raising rents in the process.
“Thor believes in the vibrancy of the Parisian retail market,” said Gliatta.
“We anticipate more acquisitions in Paris. We’re working on a couple of things. We’re actively in pursuit” of opportunities.
One factor that contributed to Thor’s interest in the Paris property is the expectation that the ban against Sunday trading in France will be lifted.
A proposal to allow more shopping on Sunday was approved in January and now has to be ratified.
Gliatta said Thor would still have purchased the property, but added, “the rent will be determined and that will certainly have an impact on the value of the space.”