How to strengthen the positioning of a department store

A bold renovation of the shoe department helped Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche energize its image and performance.

Le Bon Marché © Gabriel de la Chapelle

OVERVIEW

  • The brief
    Inject fresh energy into Le Bon Marché – the world’s first department store – to continue to offer shoppers an expertly curated selection of products in an environment designed for well-being and a diverse clientele.
  • The approach
    Progressively renovate the store, one space at a time, to align with new customer expectations while retaining the store’s DNA.
  • Results
    A totally revamped customer experience at a department store that successfully promotes its Parisian roots while engaging with an international clientele, a strategy that has led to dynamic growth in sales.

 

Le Bon Marché © Gabriel de la Chapelle

CLOSE-UP

Le Bon Marché introduced a pioneering concept when it opened the world’s first department store in 1852. To mark its 160th anniversary in 2012, the store embarked on an ambitious renovation project. The modernization strategy revolved around several key concepts: carefully curated brand selection, creation of new tailored spaces and showcasing of the unique 19th century architecture signed by Louis-Charles Boileau…and none other than Gustave Eiffel.

In 2016, after four years of now virtually completed renovation work spanning 30,000 square meters of retail floorspace, the brand has totally reinvented itself while leveraging its DNA. Two clearly identified segments have been identified for the store’s two buildings, one dedicated to style, fashion and culture, the other to gourmet foods and homeware. To make it easy for shoppers to walk around the store, the two buildings are now connected on both the first and second levels by redesigned twin walkways, as well as via the Men’s department and Wine Cellar in the lower level. This reorganization also links the gourmet food store, La Grande Epicerie, directly with the Homeware department via a double escalator that echoes the one in the main store.

 

© Studio Kippik

“The concepts of space and the customer journey were at the heart of Le Bon Marché’s renovation. For a department store, managing the way customers move through the store is critical,”

© Le Bon Marché

The new shoe department is emblematic of this successful renovation. Inaugurated in February 2015, the new footwear emporium doubled in size and moved from the first to the second level in a spectacular architectural setting covering 2,000 square meters and bathed in daylight. Beneath an original Eiffel glass roof refurbished during the renovation, the department features an exclusive selection of over 80 brands and is visible from the ground floor of the store.

Some 30% of the shoes on display at Le Bon Marché are exclusive offers. Each season also features a specific trend reprised by partner brands. Following “Glitter” for the launch, the latest theme is “Crazy Animals”, introducing shoes designed specially for Le Bon Marché. A pop-up space showcases individual brands such as Nicholas Kirkwood for its tenth anniversary celebrations in  late 2015, or Berluti this winter to mark the launch of a capsule collection of women’s shoes.

Le Bon Marché © Gabriel de la Chapelle

The new shoe department was designed inhouse by the architecture team, which worked closely with commercial teams, buyers and the styling department. It has proved a spectacular success with both customers and the media. Sales surged 50% in 2015 with a very youthful clientele, and enthusiastic media coverage has cast a glow on the entire department store.

“The more credible we are among Paris shoppers, the more international customers we attract. And the average age of our customers is now 12 years younger than it was in 2012,”

Le Bon Marché saw strong overall growth in sales in 2015 with 15% growth from local clientele and 30% from international customers. Supported by a totally updated range of services and a new ad campaign signed by Martin Parr, these results confirm the effectiveness of an audacious long-term strategy anchored in the credibility and unique identity of Le Bon Marché.

Le Bon Marché © Martin Parr

Key figures

  • 30% Exclusive brands
  • +50% Growth for shoe department in 2015
  • 300000 m² of Retail space renovated since 2012