Paris department store Le Printemps to launch luxe e-tail site

Parisian department store Le Printemps is about to launch fully into the e-tail era. On Tuesday, Paolo de Cesare, president of the department store group owned since 2013 by a pool of Qatari investors, announced the launch of Printemps.com, a major turning point for Le Printemps. Since the group is currently growing steadily, De Cesare has ambitious plans for it.

Printemps.com should be fully operational by the end of 2019 or at the latest by early 2020, and will showcase a selection of luxury labels. And while Le Printemps's current website features products available at its Haussmann Paris flagship, and at other branches outside the French capital, the future site will be looking well beyond the French market. “We definitely have international ambitions,” said the President of the Printemps group, whose revenue is expected to top the €1.7 billion mark this year. “Half of the luxury goods sales here at the Haussman branch are made with an international clientèle,” he stated.


Paolo de Cesare wants e-tail sales to account for between 15% and 20% of the group's revenue in the medium term - FNW

De Cesare hasn’t yet revealed which brands will be featured on the future website. “We will issue a teaser about it,” he said grinning. The group’s strategy is however very clearly defined. E-tail expansion is in fact one of the four future growth drivers identified by the group, alongside making the stores appealing for local customers, attracting Millennial consumers and strengthening the group's social and environmental responsibility policies.

Le Printemps’s e-tail strategy is targeting three segments, two of which are already engaged. The Citadium website works with streetwear and urban labels, while Place des Tendances, acquired in 2013 for €30 million, features a range of contemporary brands. Printemps.com will instead showcase luxury and designer brands.

A six-million-euro investment

To develop the latter, Le Printemps will rely on the organisation of Place des Tendances, whose founders left the company in controversial circumstances earlier in the year. De Cesare announced the group will invest €6 million in the next 18 months, adding to the sum of over €20 million already pledged in the last four years to fund the group’s e-commerce infrastructure. Le Printemps will nearly double the staff working in Pantin, east of Paris, taking it to more than 100 people, and also strengthen its logistics and customer service capabilities. The warehouse area will grow from m2 15,000 to m2 18,000, the studio where the pictures for the collections featured on the site are taken will grow from m2 500 to m2 1,400, and office space will grow from m2 500 to m2 1,100.
 
The group will expand the Place des Tendances logistics hub in Pantin, near Paris - DR

“We were lagging behind in terms of e-commerce. Then we bought Place des Tendances, and soon we expect to reach a revenue of €100 million with it. We have our own warehouse, stocking 400,000 items, and we are working on a three-hour delivery service within Paris. For contemporary brands, [Place des Tendances] is often the group’s best-selling outlet, and the second for other brands, well ahead of our other branches,” said de Cesare.

According to the group, Comptoir des Cotonniers sells 6.8 times more on Place des Tendances than at Printemps Haussmann, and Caroll 2.5 times more, while Maje sells 2.9 times more on Place des Tendances than at the Le Printemps branch in Lille, and Gerard Darel 2.3 times more. The website claimed 600,000 orders in 2017, and is aiming for double-digit growth this year. An impetus that de Cesare is planning to further boost via the luxury goods sector. “For some brands in the contemporary segment, it’s an essential sales channel. With our expertise, we will be better positioned than for example Asos in contemporary fashion, and better positioned than MatchesFashion or Yoox Net-A-Porter in the luxury segment. Printemps.com will be the best possible multi-channel solution for brands, relying on the partnership between our flagship and our e-tail platform. We see that pure players are now looking for this kind of symbiosis. Farfetch bought Browns to gain a brick-and-mortar credibility, and MatchesFashion operates its own stores.”

Le Printemps has set up its own dedicated teams to lead the business expansion of all its three sites. For the time being, e-commerce sales account for between 6% and 7% of total revenue. But the plan is for them to eventually reach between 15% and 20% of revenue. “For now, we rely on the brands sold on Citadium and on some contemporary womenswear labels on Place des Tendances. We are in a position to expand our business in luxury, menswear, home decoration, childrenswear and beauty. The potential is immense,” said de Cesare. It remains to be seen how, even before competing in the international arena, Printemps.com will differentiate itself from the Galeries Lafayette site or the 24Sèvres website, linked to the other Parisian department store, Le Bon Marché.

Translated by Nicola Mira

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