DFS pledges ‘multifaceted’ shopping experience as La Samaritaine is reborn

By Luke Barras-hill |

Samaritaine Paris Pont-Neuf by DFS is preparing for its grand opening on Wednesday 23 June.

LVMH subsidiary DFS Group has unfurled details of its more than 20,000sq m commercial blueprint at the long-awaited La Samaritaine department store, which officially re-opens in the heart of Paris on Wednesday 23 June.

During a press conference held on 21 June, DFS Group President Europe and Middle East Eléonore de Boysson confirmed that Samaritaine Paris Pont-Neuf by DFS will house more than 600 brands, 50 of which are exclusive to La Samaritaine.

The department store is situated opposite Le Pont Neuf on the river Seine adjacent to the bustling Rue de Rivoli shopping district.

PARISIAN CONCEPT STORES

Visitors to the luxury travel retailer’s much-anticipated second downtown location in Europe – the opening of which has been delayed due to the Covid-19 crisis – will be able to select from a mix of more than 400 products available over seven levels and multiple buildings.

DFS began its European downtown quest in 2016, when it opened T Fondaco dei Tedeschi by DFS overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal, and the latest project has been a long time in the making.

After a six-year renovation, the 70,000sq m La Samaritaine site has been reimagined through characteristic dashes of Art Nouveau and Art Deco flair that pay testament to its 19th Century heritage, laced with a contemporary twist in a decided nod to the future.

Tough choices have been made to curate a strong product range, attendees heard, with a number of niche brands available to French and foreign visitors.

The new space will spotlight Parisian, French niche and international labels across a number of different merchandise categories.

Guests will be able to peruse what DFS claims is one of largest beauty precincts in western Europe together with luxury, fashion & accessories, watches & jewellery and food & beverage.

Eléonore de Boysson, DFS Group President, Europe and the Middle East.

“La Samaritaine will be inclusive, generous, open to all visitors, boldly contemporary and cutting-edge,” de Boysson told journalists during a press conference – livestreamed to international media – hosted in a section of La Samaritaine.

“There will be a multi-faceted shopper experience and product offerings with a wide price range – from high-luxury brands to multi-brand spaces.”

The commercial atrium will feature (aptly) several concept shops: Le Louvre, offering souvenirs for Parisians and tourists, and Rivoli dedicated to urban fashion and contemporary active wear products and items.

In addition, there will be 12 catering points scattered across La Samaritaine that are ‘part and parcel of the shopping experience’, says DFS. These serve to underpin France’s gastronomical ‘art de vivre’.

The centrepiece is the fifth floor, which boasts a 1,000sq m area blending haute cuisine with mixology, the arts, poetry and music.

An array of products and services will be on offer, de Boysson continued, which emphasise DFS’ expertise in customer services.

A spa, beauty salon, hairdresser, hand and foot care services are just several examples of the services on offer to customers.

The seven-storey landmark offers an eclectic combination of merchandise in a revered setting overlooking the Seine and nestled between the iconic Rue de Rivoli and Pont-Neuf. Source: DFS Group.

“It is a place that is iconic and will become a must see sight, just as any other iconic location in Paris for travellers,” said de Boysson.

Nestled between the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral within the 1st arrondissement of Paris, La Samaritaine is ideally located within a district that is being steadily revitalised as one of the trendiest, continued de Boysson.

She touched on the intrinsic assets of the ‘incredible building’ with its ‘visionary architecture’, a building bathed in natural light helped by skylights and a large number of bay windows.

De Boysson said: “More than just a place to shop, we want Samaritaine to be a place of discovery, surprise and experience – where customers can witness the avant-garde of creation and taste the cuisine of a contemporary chef, treat themselves to a piece of luxury while enjoying an espresso prepared by an expert barista, discover designer jewellery and relax in the spa, or meet young artists and discuss the surrounding architecture with a historical guide.”

‘LARGEST BEAUTY SPACE IN EUROPE’

Mix-and-match fashion items from iconic, luxury labels to quintessential French brands and seasonal favourites will take centre stage.

Starting with the Pont-Neuf side, the basement houses watches and costume jewellery from Swarovski, APM Monaco, Michael Kors and Swatch.

On the ground floor, boutique, multi-brand spaces from Dior, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Gucci and Celine flank the likes of Jérôme Dreyfuss, Isabel Marant, A.P.C. and newcomers Néerlan dais Wandler, Dragon Diffusion, Danse Lente and Vanina’s jewellery.

Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier and Bulgari each have their own boutique. Next to them, a multi-brand space houses fine jewellery by Monsieur, Lovingstone, Ginette NY, and Pascale Monvoison.

The first floor is dedicated to women’s fashion, with luxury and contemporary brands echoing the aforementioned mix-and-match style, while a section is devoted specifically to designers such as Loewe, Dries van Noten, Alexander McQueen, Marni, Chloé, Sacai and Alaïa.

The section is bolstered by accessible fashion, an incubator space for embryonic brands, and a zone for niche and artisanal leathergoods and fine jewellery.

Plus, a ready-to-wear space on the first floor brings together pieces from Aurélie Bidermann, Goossens, Gas, Completedworks, and exclusively Pernille Lauridsen.

Ascend to the second floor to find jewellery and watches with big name boutiques from Blancpain, Vacheron Constantin, Chaumet, Tiffany and Chanel. Bréguet has also established its only point of sale in a Parisian department store.

Men’s goods can be found on the third floor: from upmarket apparel to luxury streetwear, shoes and made in France accessories.

Here, visitors will discover a targeted range of jewellery and small accessories like cufflinks, tie clips and key rings.

Move to the fourth floor and DFS at La Samaritaine has fused together around 50 women’s shoe brands with premium names from Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin spotlighting alongside niche houses such as Victoria, Alaïa, The Row, and Wandler.

On the ground floor of the Rivoli building, different watch styles collide with Casio, Daniel Wellington, LIP and Vasco making their mark.

LVMH: A MOMENTOUS OCCASION

Spanning 3,400sq m and boasting 200 brands, the basement-level beauty space is Europe’s largest says DFS.

On the Pont-Neuf side, Dior, Chanel and Guerlain jostle for attention in an area marked out by its parquet floors, gilded brass structures and mosaics.

Meanwhile, on the Rivoli side customers can select from brands such as Aesop, The Ordinary and Le Labo in the Pure Beauty area.

Dolce & Gabbana Beauty, Helena Rubinstein, Clé de Peau Beauté, SK-II, Fragonard, Orveda and Sulwhasoo are all exclusive to La Samaritaine.

For an elevated experience, visitors can indulge in five beauty spaces: The Cinque Mondes Spa, Pure Beauty, Makeup Bar, Samaritaine Beauty Studio and House of Perfume.

Jean Jacques Guiony, Chief Financial Officer, LVMH hailed the ‘momentous occasion and pivotal moment’ as Samaritaine Paris Pont-Neuf by DFS opens from 23 June.

Jean Jacques Guiony, Chief Financial Officer at LVMH praised the ‘momentous occasion and pivotal moment’ in the luxury conglomerate’s history and ‘the end of a long, beautiful journey and beginning of a new chapter for La Samaritaine’.

LVMH took over the 1870s site in 2001 when the Arnault-controlled luxury goods giant bought in as major shareholders, but the site was closed in 2005 due to safety reasons.

The sixteen years that followed were characterised by revisions to the project, working alongside municipal authorities, architects, planners and a lengthy delay due to litigation and building permit permission (granted in 2015).

This week, France’s President Emmanuel Macron and LVMH Chief Executive and Chairman Bernard Arnault inaugurated the Samaritaine Pont-Neuf department store.

In addition to DFS’ T Galleria, the sprawling footprint boasts a 71-room Cheval Blanc Palace hotel, 96 social housing units, mixed office space and a nursery with space for 80 children.

Guiony said: “We realised it was virtually impossible to rebuild La Samaritaine as it was in the past; therefore we had to come up with a new project.

“It is a true diversity of uses and that diversity came from a deep need because we couldn’t just do a department store across the entire area,” he said. “It is through diversity that we could truly bring life back into the area.

“We wanted to come up with a resolutely modern building; an area where people live, work, come to eat and shop 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Diversity is the key driver. We also wanted to respect the heritage site.”

16 years in the making: Set over a 70,000sq m heritage site, the La Samaritaine department store is preparing for its grand re-opening on 23 June. It has been closed since 2005.

Spanning seven floors, including ground and basement levels, La Samaritaine’s three distinctive buildings are inspired by their architects – Henri Sauvage (overlooking the Seine), Frantz Jourdain and Japanese agency Sanaa (facing Rue de Rivoli)

DFS EYES FIVE MILLION VISITORS IN COMING YEARS

One of the most impressive Art Nouveau aspects of the whole complex can be viewed on the fifth floor, with frescoes of peacocks adorning more than 250sq m, mosaics and other intricate detailing.

Other standout aspects include 343 screen-printed glass panels measuring 2.7 metres by 3.5 metres that identify the facade of the Rivoli-side building designed by Japan’s Sanaa agency.

The railing of the central staircase has been renovated with particular care and attention to the 16,000 gold leaves, Art Nouveau ceramic under the landings, and the 270 oak steps.

Meanwhile, the 37- x 20-metre rectangular glazed roof has had its original structure and colours – chosen by Frantz Jourdain – preserved, with the only modern concession being electrochromic glass that tints according to brightness.

“We’ve been able to protect and renovate this prestige building,” confirmed Guiony.

LVMH hosted a press conference for local media at La Samaritaine.

A total of 1,700 sales staff will act as ambassadors while telling the stories and histories of the brands that reside in the expansive mixed-use development.

In a Q&A, French journalists asked about tourist numbers and revenue forecasts for the department store.

De Boysson pointed to the site’s attraction to local and foreign customers, revealing that the group expects to attract around five million tourists to Samaritaine by DFS in the next two to three years.

When DFS inaugurated its Venice store at T Fondaco, it welcomed three million visitors in year one.

LVMH refused to be drawn on exact revenue expectations, citing the uncertainty in 2022 and beyond as tourists numbers restore.

In parallel with the opening of Samaritaine Paris Pont-Neuf by DFS, the company is launching a new dedicated website, samaritaine.com, which it says reflects the store’s ‘refined and uniquely Parisian personality’.

The website will also enable customers to shop a range of exclusive and made-for-Samaritaine products.

Benjamin Vuchot, Chairman and CEO, DFS Group said in a statement: “For over 60 years, DFS has provided global travellers with luxurious, inspiring and exciting retail experiences in some of the most iconic locations around the world.

“Here in Paris, we are delighted to create a new retail destination in the vibrant heart of the city, combining luxury and contemporary merchandise, exceptional customer service and a wealth of opportunities to explore and discover the true French ‘art de vivre’.

“In restoring Samaritaine to Paris, we are also delighted to welcome a new generation of discerning customers, transcending their highest expectations of what this beautiful city can offer.

“We are encouraged by signs of a return to normality in Europe, and we are optimistic that borders may start to open again to allow travellers to return to France. We look forward to welcoming customers from around the world to our newest ‘destination within a destination’, here in Paris.”

More images to follow…

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