PARIS — Longchamp has landed on the Champs-Élysées.
This story first appeared in the December 4, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
On Friday, the French leather goods firm is to open a 5,400-square-foot flagship at number 77. Its largest store in Europe will offer women’s and men’s bags, accessories and luggage alongside ready-to-wear and shoes.
Jean Cassegrain, chief executive officer of the independent, family-run firm, said the boutique could knock the Rue Saint-Honoré unit from its number-one perch in terms of sales.
“We expect it to become one of our four or five most important stores in the world. The future will tell whether it becomes number one,” he said.
Longchamp has taken over a space previously occupied by MCS, the label formerly known as Marlboro Classics. Set between historic restaurant Fouquet’s and the Ladurée tea room, it benefits from significant traffic from the luxury hotels and stores of nearby Avenue Montaigne, Rue François 1er and Avenue George V.
“I think this is really the ideal location for us,” said Cassegrain. During the Seventies and Eighties, the house had a presence at number 84 under the name Dominique Cassegrain.
The staircase of the new store is illuminated by a specially commissioned installation by Danish artist Astrid Krogh from her “Cloud Illusions” series, while the men’s department features a striking aluminum sculpture by Thomas Heatherwick.
Jeremy Scott has designed a bag — priced at 220 euros, or around $300 at current exchange — that is available exclusively at the store. Longchamp is marking the opening with a live interview with its brand ambassador Alexa Chung by style maven Caroline de Maigret on its Web site today.
The Paris flagship is the sixth major European opening for the brand in the past 15 months. During that period, it has unveiled two stores in London and other locations in Barcelona, Rome and Munich.
“What these stores have in common is that they are markedly bigger than our previous boutique format,” said Cassegrain. “This allows us to better showcase all of our collections.”
Shoes and rtw are currently sold in only 80 of Longchamp’s 280 directly operated stores worldwide and jointly account for less than 10 percent of its revenues. “In the next five or 10 years, they will probably be a significant growth category for the brand,” said Cassegrain.
The executive said Longchamp was bucking the general slowdown in luxury, thanks to strong demand from Asia and a recovery in the United States. He forecast consolidated turnover would rise 8 percent in 2014, versus a 4 percent increase last year, when it totaled 462 million euros, or $613 million at average exchange.
“I am fairly optimistic because there are structural factors that support the brand, namely the development of the Asian customer base,” he said. “In some countries, namely China, our development is more recent than for some other brands, so we are still a long way from saturation.”
Next year, Longchamp is to open its first stores in Canada, Austria, Cambodia, Peru and Paraguay. It will also renovate its store on Rue Saint-Honoré, though a temporary space nearby should help to minimize the disruption to business.