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By
AFP
Published
Sep 15, 2007
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French luxury firms to woo Moscow

By
AFP
Published
Sep 15, 2007

PARIS, Sept 15, 2007 (AFP) - The elite of France's luxury industry will converge on Moscow in December to celebrate 300 years of links with Russia, seen as both a strategic and expanding market.

More than 40 chief executives of top companies in high-end fashion, jewellery, perfumes and tableware will attend the two-day event on December 3 and 4 being organised by the Committee Colbert, which groups 70 names in the luxury business.

After China in 2005 and India in 2006, the committee has set its sights on Russia this year, with which French luxury has "historically its longest and richest ties," representative Elisabeth Ponsolle des Portes told AFP.

All the committee's members are established in Russia, with 302 points of sale, mostly in Moscow, St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, achieving sales of 450 million euros (625 million dollars), 2.2 percent of their global sales.

"French luxury is expanding in Moscow" and "2007 is an exceptional vintage," Ponsolle des Portes said. Another 10 luxury boutiques are due to open in Moscow before the end of the year.

"The presence of luxury brands has been getting ever stronger" since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, she said.

The former Soviet flagship store Gum now houses more than 150 western brands, including top French luxury names like Cartier, which is preparing to open its fourth boutique in Russia.

Russia is the second biggest global market after Paris for the fine grocers Hediard and in the next three to four years Delisle (tableware) expects to make 30 percent of its sales in the country.

French luxury's links with Russia go back the courts of the Tsars, when Russian aristocrats were among their best customers.

The Colbert Committee said it is holding its annual general meeting in Moscow on December 4 to "demonstrate the strategic importance of the Russian market for the French luxury industry".

A host of events to showcase different brands are being planned on the sidelines.

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