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article imageGaleries Lafayette reclaims part of Champs-Elysées for France

By Robert Myles     Nov 25, 2014 in World
Paris - Upmarket French retailer Galeries Lafayette confirmed last weekend that it’s to open a new luxury department store on France’s prime shopping street, the Champs-Elysées in Paris, arguably the most famous avenue in the world.
Galeries Lafayette concluded negotiations for the lease of an iconic building at 52 Champs-Elysées, the site of a former media megastore that closed in 2013 shortly after Virgin Megastore France filed for bankruptcy.
Negotiations for the lease of the building were concluded swiftly. It was only on Oct. 6 that Galeries Lafayette Group announced it had entered into exclusive negotiations for the lease of No. 52, a building designed by French architect André-Louis Arfvidson and completed in 1931.
The iconic building is now owned by a Qatari investment group and offers a massive 9000 square meters of retail space at a prime location. The Champs-Elysées commands the third highest rentals of any retail thoroughfare in the world and is the most expensive in Europe. Only retail space along Upper Fifth Avenue in New York and Causeway Bay in Hong Kong fetch more.
Properties along the Champs-Elysées, Paris’ most famous street, regularly achieve rentals in excess of 13,000 € ($16,150) per square meter while attracting an estimated 25 million visitors each year.
Despite much of the retail space along the Champs-Elysées in recent years falling prey to international brands common in most major cities these days, Galeries Lafayette, France’s flagship retailer, was notable by its absence.
Although Galeries Lafayette Group operates two Paris stores, at Montparnasse and the current flagship store at 40 Boulevard Haussmann, visitors to the Champs-Elysées looking for some Gallic retail therapy would have looked in vain.
Ironically, one of Galeries Lafayette’s founders, Théophile Bader, purchased the site on which No. 52 Champs-Elysées now stands in 1927 to construct “un grand magasin” intending to emulate some of New York’s most famous stores.
Interviewed in French language Journal de dimanche (Fr.), last Sunday, Galeries Lafayette’s CEO, Philippe Houzén said, “We shall be present on the Champs-Elysées in 2018, at number 52. Our ambition is to make this place a great fashion store — an iconic store on an iconic avenue.”
The impressive interior of 52 Champs-Elysees now acquired by Galeries Lafayette  photographed 2006 w...
The impressive interior of 52 Champs-Elysees now acquired by Galeries Lafayette, photographed 2006 when the tenants were Virgin Megastore.
Wikimedia Commons - Christopher Woods
Galeries Lafayette’s intended return to the Champs-Elysées in four years time is certainly against the trend. Unlike most of the outlets that now populate Europe’s most celebrated boulevard, Galeries Lafayette remains a family-run, private, independent trading group with a history stretching back to 1894 when founder, Théophile Bader, along with his cousin Alphonse Kahn opened a fashion store in a small haberdasher's shop at the corner of rue La Fayette and the Chaussée d'Antin, in Paris. Their retail space back then — a mere 70 square meters — was less than one-hundredth the size of the projected new store.
No. 52 Champs-Elysees in an earlier time. The building once housed the National City Bank  a former ...
No. 52 Champs-Elysees in an earlier time. The building once housed the National City Bank, a former French bank.
Public domain ex-copyright
In recent years, the Disneystore, Nike, Zara, H&M and many more have established a presence on the Champs-Elysées. The arrival of these global chains has radically changed the thoroughfare’s character, perhaps forever.
The return of Galeries Lafayette, however, may strike a small blow against what the City of Paris has called this “banalization” of the Champs-Elysées.
More about Galeries Lafayette, Champs Elysees, Paris, shopping in France, shopping in paris
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