Thieves hit Colette concept store in Paris
The pair held up the store on the fashionable rue Saint-Honore, north of the Tuileries gardens and near the Place de Vendome, shortly after it opened at 10:00 am, investigators said.
They forced the six employees and a security guard, who were inside, to the ground before scooping up merchandise, mostly expensive watches, from showcases.
The pair then fled on a scooter with a false license plate.
No-one was hurt in the robbery which only lasted a few minutes, police said.
The robbers, who wore motorcycle helmets, had threatened the guard before forcing all seven to lie down on the floor. The one armed with the axe then smashed the showcases.
Colette which spreads over 700 square metres (7,535 square feet) on three floors plus a basement is widely seen in other European capitals as a trendsetter in fashion and design.
Watches sold by Colette carry price tags of 12,000-13,000 euros ($16,550-17,950), the manager of a nearby jewellery store said.
Colette also sells designer clothes, trendy accessories and household appliances, often exclusives or in very limited editions.
The store was the first to sport a "water bar" in the French capital offering dozens of mineral waters from across the world.
With Colette prices a mystery to no-one in Paris, some Twitter users chuckled about how small the robbers' haul may actually have been.
"Maybe two jeans and a bottle of water," wrote @jules_caron. Or "the equivalent of five hangers", said another, @GaetanPllt.
Police will now analyse the store's videotape for possible clues, investigators said. The area around the store was blocked off in the morning.
Despite the many luxury items security at Colette is not comparable to that of other upscale fashion and jewellery stores in the area around Place Vendome, renowned for its deluxe hotels like the Ritz.
The area has been the scene of several break-ins in recent months despite the justice ministry being located at the square.
Two jewellery boutiques were robbed in March alone.
In similar heists, armed thieves in December made off with luxury watches worth 800,000 euros from a boutique in the same neighbourhood, shortly after a separate robbery of hundreds of thousands of euros worth of luxury watches by axe- and sledgehammer-wielding robbers at a Vacheron Constantin store.
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