A rendering of the future Eataly flagship in Paris.

PARIS — Groupe Galeries Lafayette on Wednesday provided a first glimpse of its ambitious project to counter the threat of e-commerce: a complete redesign of the area surrounding its BHV Marais department store in central Paris that will offer visitors a blend of culture, dining and covetable streetwear brands.

The French retailer moved a step closer to its vision with the opening on March 10 of its art foundation, Lafayette Anticipations, in a historic building that has been renovated by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas’ agency OMA.

This will be followed in February 2019 by the first French flagship of culinary mecca Eataly, which will provide a link between the foundation and the department store on Rue de Rivoli via a network of inner courtyards designed by its real estate arm Citynove, in collaboration with French agency Data Architectes.

Executives including Nicolas Houzé, chief executive officer of Groupe Galeries Lafayette’s department store division, and his brother Guillaume Houzé, director of image and patronage of Groupe Galeries Lafayette and president of Lafayette Anticipations, gave a tour of the complex, including the Eataly building site.

“Our ambition is to create a real ecosystem, a village that is both commercial and cultural,” said Guillaume Houzé. “The idea is to give Parisians and all our future customers an entirely new viewpoint on Paris with the reopening of all these passageways.”

The group spent 12 million euros on building the foundation and has approved a budget of 20.7 million euros over five years for the venue, which features more than 9,000 square feet of exhibition space, production workshops, a Wild & The Moon café and a concept store.

The foundation drew more than 10,000 people on its opening weekend and Galeries Lafayette aims for 100,000 visitors in the first year. Having collaborated with Australian fashion label Perks and Mini and fashion journal Vestoj on pre-opening events, it is now working on a project with U.S. label Eckhaus Latta for next year.

Galeries Lafayette has spruced up its retail offer in recent years with the renovation of the BHV Marais flagship and the opening of 10 men’s wear shops in the area, including stand-alone boutiques for Fendi, Givenchy, Gucci and Moncler, and the first European flagship for Japanese streetwear brand A Bathing Ape.

Guillaume Pats, merchandise director at Galeries Lafayette, said the Bape store’s revenues in its first month of trading last December were equivalent to forecast sales for the December-June period, with customers flocking to the boutique from across Europe.

“We were very, very surprised by the European buzz generated by the brand,” he said, standing near a rack of camouflage-patterned clothes in the store. “We are working with them now on upcoming collaborations with big French labels, including luxury brands.”

Galeries Lafayette is now looking to bring other labels to the neighborhood, which is also home to a Nike Lab, an Adidas Originals concept store and the French outpost of New York-based streetwear brand Supreme.

“This neighborhood is gradually becoming an extremely cool area for French streetwear culture,” said Pats. “In the past, we were opening stores for institutional brands. Today, the Marais customer wants Off-White, Aimé Leon Dore, Kith and Bape.”

The Eataly franchise, meanwhile, is expected to serve 2,500 meals per day via its seven eateries. In addition to the three-story main building, it will encompass a cocktail bar and café across the street, as well as a fresh food market in a courtyard featuring a pavement designed by Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Boyce.

A rendering of Martin Boyce’s pavement in the courtyard of the future Eataly flagship in Paris.  Courtesy

Galeries Lafayette hopes the venue will attract both locals and individual tourists. Eric Costa, corporate real estate director of Galeries Lafayette Group and ceo of Citynove, said customers will be able to take in an exhibition, meet friends for a meal, stock up on staples and discover new brands — all in the same spot.

“We have to reunite all the good reasons to shop in stores,” he said. “BHV catered to a specific customer, but did not have the full range of shopping we want to offer. By breaking out of its physical confines and deploying that offer over the whole neighborhood, we think we are able to create a totally unique shopping destination.”

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