PARIS — French department store chain Printemps on Tuesday unveiled a new logo and brand identity as it prepares to embark on its biggest marketing push in seven years in a bid to break even after years of coronavirus-related losses.
Chief executive officer Jean-Marc Bellaiche said the new-look Printemps would be launched with a nationwide advertising campaign, starting on Wednesday, with the tag line “Tout commence au Printemps,” which translates as “Everything starts at Printemps” but is also a play on the name of the store, which means “spring” in French.
A two-day Festival de Printemps, featuring music performances, food stands, street art, cheerleaders and other happenings, will take place Saturday and Sunday, coinciding with the arrival of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Meanwhile, the retailer is unveiling eight new concepts, from beauty to vintage watches, at its Boulevard Haussmann flagship in Paris.
“Printemps hasn’t invested much in the last few years,” said Bellaiche, who joined the company in October 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ve decided to make significant marketing investments to accompany this relaunch and rebranding, so Printemps will once again be part of the conversation.”
Printemps was acquired in 2013 by Divine Investments SA, a Luxembourg-based investment fund backed by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the former emir of Qatar.
It has 16 department stores in France, nine urban apparel Citadium stores, and four e-commerce sites: printemps.com, citadium.com, fashion e-commerce site Place des Tendances and online homewares retailer Made in Design.
Bellaiche estimated the group’s capital expenditure at 40 million euros to 50 millions euros a year, but said its last major marketing effort was for its 150th anniversary in 2015.
In the intervening years, retailers have had to weather a series of terrorist attacks in France in 2015; months of violent anti-government protests in 2018 and 2019; a 50-day transport strike in 2019 and 2020, and an unprecedented series of store closures during successive lockdowns designed to stem the spread of COVID-19.
But things are looking up. The executive reported that comparable sales between April 2021 and March 2022 rose 38 percent year-over-year, and were down 12 percent versus the same period in 2020, thanks in part to a rebound in tourism in the fourth quarter, despite the continued dearth of Asian visitors.
“We have benchmarks that show us we’re outperforming the market,” he said. “We hope to return to profitability in the coming year.”
The last time Printemps disclosed annual sales was for the fiscal year ending in March 2019, when revenues totaled 1.7 billion euros. Bellaiche said it would take another two or three years before the retailer returns to that level, noting that footfall is down 30 percent from 2018.
In the last year, Printemps has ramped up spending on digital activities. E-commerce sales in the last 12 months were up 31 percent versus fiscal 2020, while omnichannel revenues rose 52 percent.
The redesigned printemps.com site, featuring the brand’s new green, white and gold color scheme and stylized letter “P,” will launch on Saturday. It will feature new functionalities including a simplified checkout system; the launch of a second-hand offer, and a section curated by 40 personal shoppers. It will also host a virtual boutique, where buyers will automatically enter a draw to win 30 NFTs designed with French artist Romain Froquet.
Meanwhile, the group has seen an acceleration of sales to local customers, up 10 percent versus two years ago, and a return of foreign visitors. Between October and December, sales to U.S. customers rose 53 percent versus the same period in 2019, while those from Europe and the Middle East registered a 23 percent bump.
That trend was interrupted by the spread of the Omicron variant in January, and the outlook for summer has been clouded by the war in Ukraine, Bellaiche said. Russian and Ukrainian customers account for just 1.5 percent of sales at Printemps, but the conflict could have wider-ranging implications, he noted.
“If the situation worsens and it starts to limit travel within Europe, or if Americans start to think it’s risky coming to Paris, for sure we could see more severe repercussions, but at this stage, it’s not having a major impact on our plans,” he said, adding he does not expect Chinese tourists to return before the end of 2023.
To launch its new brand identity, the Printemps flagship in Paris will host a pop-up store in its atrium featuring 500 exclusive products in green, white and gold specially designed by brands including Loewe, Stuart Weitzman, By Far, Tod’s, Fred, Diesel, Clarins and Guerlain, among others.
This weekend, it will unveil a luminous floral design on its facade, due to remain in place for nine months, as well as immersive window displays, including two interactive windows equipped with digital sensors.
Inside the store, the sixth-floor restaurant, under its historic stained glass cupola, has been reimagined as a beach club with rattan chairs, adjoining a new swimwear and homewares section. The menu will be updated every six months in collaboration with guest personalities, starting with food critic Elvira Masson.
On the ground floor of the men’s department, Printemps has partnered with coffee roaster Belleville Brûlerie on the Café Vert coffee shop, where all the plants are for sale. In addition, it’s opening a Mochi Mochi bubble tea concession.
Elsewhere in the department store, the historic Maria Luisa concession, opened in 2009 by the late Maria Luisa Poumaillou, has been rebranded as L’Endroit featuring 35 brands, including eight new labels for spring. There is a new 2,150-square-foot section dedicated to items from previous seasons, segmented by color.
New partnerships include a tie-up with Watchfinder & Co. on a selection of pre-owned timepieces, and a collaboration with Los Angeles-based digital fashion start-up DressX on a pop-up that will feature five products designed exclusively for Printemps.