Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette launches centre for Asian tourist groups
On 15th March the Galeries Lafayette department store has opened at 21 boulevard Haussmann, Paris, a 2,800 m2 store dedicated to Asian tourist groups, called Shopping & Welcome Center. It is a strategic choice for the retailer: 50% of the footfall of its boulevard Haussmann branch in Paris comes from tourists, for the vast majority from China, which account for an even greater share of the department store's revenue.
The retailer stated the new centre is designed to provide this clientele, "which craves shopping visits that are both targeted and effective," with a reception quality and a service level in line with their expectations. Galeries Lafayette actually featured a dedicated entrance for Asian groups in its Haussmann branch, just across the road from the new store, which will instead now take care of receiving groups, before they visit the main branch.
The new centre was designed by architect Ora Ïto and its layout will remind customers of that of Asian stores, with an array of brand islands and display counters filled with products by different labels within a relatively small area. On the centre's façade and interiors, the colour gold predominates, a highly appreciated hue in Chinese culture, making the effect all the stronger. Likewise, multi-lingual product labels heighten the exotic feeling for non-Asian customers, who are also welcome inside the new store.
The Shopping & Welcome Center employs a staff of 300, and will provide access to a broad range of brand best-sellers in the briefest possible time, given that group visits are usually restricted to two/two and a half hours. The range on offer includes leather, beauty and para-pharmaceutical products, accessories and jewellery, sun creams, gifts and fine foods. Crucially, duty-free procedures have been streamlined, given that until now they used up a far from negligible portion of the time spent in-store by tourist customers.
The centre's opening is no coincidence, after the significant shortfall in tourism suffered by France in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 2015 and 2016. The shortfall was notably felt in terms of Asian tourists, contributing to a decrease in the Galeries Lafayette's revenue in the first six months of 2016, from €1.7 billion to €1.6 billion. At the time, the General Manager of the group's Department Store division, Nicolas Houzé, reckoned that foreign customer footfall fell by 15%.
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