March 25th, 2011
Women's Wear Daily
Louis Vuitton Expands in Florida, Dubai
by Miles Socha
Louis Vuitton is doubling up — and then some — in South Florida.
The French luxury brand plans to exit Bal Harbour Shops at the end of May and establish a new location roughly double the size at the Aventura Mall, where Vuitton already operates a leased department at Bloomingdale's.
What's more, Vuitton plans to add a unit in the burgeoning Miami Design District in the coming years, said Vuitton chief executive officer Yves Carcelle.
He said details on the global store at Aventura are still being worked out and that Vuitton would open a temporary store there on June 5 to ensure a continuation of the business in a dynamic region for the brand. The size, location and concept for the design district boutique are also being fine-tuned. Vuitton decided to exit Bal Harbour upon the expiration of its lease as the complex would not allow it to expand or open a second location in the area, according to Carcelle.
The luxury goods firm revealed the plan to expand in south Florida as it opened a larger unit in Dubai and said it will continue to expand aggressively in the Middle East even as certain countries in the region are in political turmoil. Valérie Chapoulaud-Floquet, president and chief executive of Louis Vuitton South Europe and Middle East, speaking during the reopening of Vuitton's Mall of the Emirates boutique in Dubai, said clientele in the region have an appetite for luxury and most of the company's current retail spaces are too small to meet the demands of customers.
Chapoulaud-Floquet said the company's short-term strategy is to "expand or relocate existing stores to give more space to meet the clients' needs in terms of products and services."
The newly expanded Mall of the Emirates store almost doubles the retail space with a much larger product offering, including a full selection of women's ready-to-wear as well as a new section dedicated to men's rtw.
The expansion also includes the first-ever family room within a Louis Vuitton store. Conceptualized to meet the unique needs of customers in the region, the room offers a space for families to relax while parents enjoy a leisurely shopping experience "Family is central to life in the Middle East, and we noticed that there were many families in the store," explained Chapoulaud-Floquet. "The idea was to create an environment where our customers and their families can shop in a more relaxed way."
Future plans for the Middle East include a possible expansion of the store opened last year in Beirut, Lebanon. "The relaunch and expansion of this store is a great example of what we have to do throughout the region," said Chapoulaud-Floquet.
Chapoulaud-Floquet said Vuitton's business in the region has been largely unaffected by the political unrest, since most of the countries in turmoil are not large markets for luxury goods. "Fortunately we have not been very exposed in the areas where there has been unrest," she said. One store in Bahrain has been closed for a week during the current anti-government protests. She added that stable markets like Dubai are benefiting as people move from areas of unrest like Egypt.