PARIS — Galeries Lafayette-Royal Quartz Paris, the watch retailer of the well-known French department store, is going for the boutique-apartment look as it moves upscale in a bid to draw locals and travelers.
The chain, which recently won a bid to operate nearly a dozen airport stores, mostly at the Charles de Gaulle Airport, is also adding high jewelry to its mix, as it focuses on higher-end luxury brands, including Cartier, Chanel, Rolex, Bulgari and Zenith. It recently opened a store in the Marais district and reopened its historic flagship on Rue Royale featuring the new design, which is also meant for the airplane stores at a later stage.
“We are taking a major step in our development with the opening of these two, prestigious stores, which illustrate, in the heart of the city of light, our vision of a cool luxury, both elegant and pleasant, inclusive and human-oriented,” said Arthur Lemoine, managing director of the Galeries Lafayette group’s watchmaking activities.
As multibrand retailers struggle to find their footing with the rise of online commerce, which offers direct access to brands, department stores are fighting for a position with consumers.
Galeries Lafayette is leaning on its interaction with clients, offering more services like watch repair, for example, as well as its role in selecting products and introducing shoppers to new labels.
At the newly refurbished Rue Royale flagship, which gained an extra floor during its two-year renovation, comfortable chairs, coffee tables and even a sleek sofa are meant to project a welcoming feel. A natural colored wood parquet softens the more formal edge that comes from touches of marble.
Brands like Cartier, Rolex and Bulgari are allowed to choose the wall covering to distinguish their section of the store — in red, green or a pastel pink silk, for example. Drawers and shelves are chosen by the store, for uniformity, eschewing the shop-in-shop format.
As for services, the company has hired Place Vendôme jeweler Paola Lambert, who offers made-to-measure pieces, while the Camille Fournet section offers a watch strap “bar,” which offers crocodile skin watch straps to fit an Apple watch.
The group is also stressing its role in turning up new products and brands for its clients.
“Next to the leading brands, like the ones you see downstairs Rolex, Jaeger-Lecoultre, we can dare to offer more niche brands, whether very technical or more fashion-oriented brands for example, we really try to surprise our clients with a non conventional offer,” said Federica Roux, who runs marketing, communications and digital operations for the watch department.
The new Marais district store is located on the Rue des Archives, tapping into local demand in a changing neighborhood. Galeries Lafayette has driven the transformation of sections of the city near its BVH Marais store, where a series of courtyards connects boutiques and restaurants, offering pedestrians passageways away from car traffic.