17 March 2021
The Weekly

Jean-Marc Bellaiche plans a broad rejuvenation of the department store with the digital dimension being an important part of it. Spaces with exclusive products should be revived, and with a concept store approach. There should be new categories, in addition to the categories Printemps historically has been very strong in, like accessories, men’s and women’s fashion, beauty products, home goods, children’s section. One example could be offering gift sections around the store, or expanding in art, cultural items, technology, objects linked to sports, everyday objects, interiors or small items for interior decorating. Printemps needs to work with fashion schools around the world, with little brands, to really return to being a kind of incubator and constantly offer surprises to clients, with unknown brands — to return to this role as incubator and curator.

E-commerce also offers an opportunity to expand abroad, without having to plant a physical flag, and there are plans to roll out printemps.com, which was launched in the U.K. in November, in the U.S., Asia and elsewhere in Europe. Printemps bought Made in Design a couple of years ago, and has a strong sports-oriented store, under the banner Citadium, Printemps’ CEO intends to lean on. The retailer launched printemps.com a year ago. The project kicked off with strong branding but now the idea is to expand the offer so it better reflects what’s in the stores. Made in Design is already present in other markets, with 35% of sales generated from abroad, principally in Europe, while Place des Tendances, a French fashion e-commerce site it acquired in 2013, has opened in a number of countries in Europe. Sustainability, is central to the department store’s strategy.

This year, it will launch a space dedicated to the circular economy. The retailer has been working on a project in the northern French city of Lille with a startup called Revive, which customizes unsold, Printemps-branded garments to give them a second life. Printemps is also looking with interest into second hand products. Deepening ties with clients is key to Jean-Marc Bellaiche’s strategy with plans to push the loyalty program, Printania, abroad, and launch a recruiting drive to gain new clients — younger ones, families, different nationalities to expanding the customer base.

Internally, the retailer has begun streamlining operations at its headquarters through a transformation plan, and is rebuilding teams with an eye to a more entrepreneurial approach and more women in leadership roles. Internally, Sophie Boquet, who formerly headed Citadium, has taken charge of the store network beyond the Haussmann flagship, while Karen Vernet, General Director of Offer, will take up relations with brands. External recruits include Stéphane Roth, who is directing marketing efforts and comes with experience in Asia and the U.S., and with digital activities, and the head of transformation Maude Funaro, who has a digital transformation background and headed a lingerie label and has experience in management consulting. Investments will be focused on the digital front, the company plans to invest more than €40mn a year in this area over the next few years. Plans to open stores abroad have been put on hold, but Printemps intends to open a store in Qatar in 2022, to coincide with the FIFA World Soccer Cup, which will be held there. Printemps was acquired in 2013 by Divine Investments SA, a Luxembourg-based investment fund backed by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the former emir of Qatar, whose other properties include London department store Harrods and Italian fashion label Valentino. For Jean-Marc Bellaiche, Printemps is having a fantastic space, well-placed, and can leverage these sales floors as real assets to develop real complementarity between the digital realm and physical stores.

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