Alexandre Liot (BHV Marais): "Ready-to-wear and accessories now account for 40% of our sales"

Parisian department store BHV, owned by the Galeries Lafayette group and still in the midst of a make-ver, is becoming even more deeply rooted in the classy Marais district. As BHV Marais, it underwent a major renovation between 2012 and 2014, and is still busy with new projects, including the launch of its e-tail site. BHV's director Alexandre Liot took stock of the developments, in conversation with Fashion Network. The full interview is available exclusively on FashionNetwork Premium.


Alexandre Liot, the director of BHV, is also home decoration purchasing director at the Galeries Lafayette group - Eric Malemanche

FashionNetwork: How do you assess the BHV's metamorphosis, three years after it changed direction? 

Alexandre Liot: The BHV used to be a market leader in home decoration and DIY, but was hit by the internet boom, and slowed down by an outdated retail approach. We invested €35 million to engineer its makeover into BHV Marais. We received many protest letters after we decided on this repositioning, a sign of how attached Parisians are to the BHV brand. But to modernise it was an imperative. Now, I could say we have rendered certain other department stores almost obsolete. Our objective was to reposition BHV as a lifestyle department store, with home decoration still predominant, but adding an augmented fashion range. Ready-to-wear and accessories sales now account for 40% of our overall business, compared to 20% in the past. We also went scouting for additional customer segments, specifically 25-45-year-olds and tourists. From 6% of the total in 2013, our foreign customers have grown to 18% now, and we hope they will reach 35% in 2020.

FNW: How is the fashion side of the business doing?

AL: Sales for our fashion range grew 12% in 2016, and we are hoping to increase by 15% in 2017, driven by labels such as Maje, Sandro, Claudie Pierlot and Zapa for womenswear, and by De Fursac, Balibaris, Sandro and The Kooples for menswear. In home decoration and design, we offer differentiating, exclusive brands, but we don't yet do that in fashion, since we needed to bring the category up to scratch, by featuring some of its benchmark labels. Now, we want to seek out niche designers and give them the floor, and offer directional brands and emerging stylists the chance to express themselves, by showcasing their work and collaborating with them on BHV Marais-specific capsule collections.

FNW: You still do not have an e-shop. What stage is that particular project at?

AL: The current challenge for us is to go omni-channel. Our e-commerce site was due to be ready in 2016, and will finally be operational in June 2018. We are behind others, and we had to deal with several technical issues, so it must be in perfect working order. We are notably planning to introduce a two-hour click & collect service. We are still working to ensure that payments are made easier by digital solutions.  Waiting time at the tills is something which still must be improved.

With regards to this, it makes sense that the Galeries Lafayette group acquired [mail order/e-tail company] La Redoute: it will help us go even further than we could imagine with online sales, with the objective of becoming the online benchmark for the home decoration world.

FNW: What is your assessment of Sunday store openings in Paris, more than a year after they were introduced?

AL: Sunday has now become the second-best day of the week saleswise, after Saturday. Sunday openings allowed us to attract both international customers and more customers from the Paris region, producing 10% additional revenue in a year. The BHV Marais store generates an annual revenue of approximately €300 million, and since January 2017 we are growing at a rate of 6%.
 
To learn more about the BHV's new projects in home decoration, its international ambitions and how it is putting the finishing touches to its Marais eco-system, read the full interview on FashionNetwork Premium.

Translated by Nicola Mira

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