Printemps rebrands in time for spring
To demonstrate its modernization, Printemps takes advantage of the change in season: A free multifaceted festival (concerts, food, workshops, etc.) will be held in its 20 French locations this weekend (March 19 and 20). An omnipresent prairie green colour, a vast marketing campaign and redesigned point-of-sales should accompany the renewal of this department store chain founded in 1865 on Boulevard Haussmann. "Everything starts in Spring" is the new maxim of the group owned by the Qatari fund Disa, which intends to return to its pre-pandemic sales levels as early as this year.
"Printemps had lost its uniqueness, just like a certain dispersion in terms of colors: pink and grey for the brand, yellow for the sales, neon green for the e-shop. We felt it was time to renew our brand platform. Printemps had not invested much in recent years, except for the maintenance and renovation of its buildings… Today, marketing expenses are significant: we need to make noise again!”, said Jean-Marc Bellaiche, president of the group since October 2020, whose investment envelope amounts to 40 to 50 million euros per year.
This rejuvenation will be accompanied this week by a major communication campaign (posters on the streets and in the metro, on social platforms, press advertisements, etc.), and a brand new collection of 500 products designed by partner brands available in its new signature colors. "Our goal is to balance the customer base (with an average age of 48), and the offering with a positioning of accessible brands and exclusive products. Luxury has changed a lot in ten years. It has taken over the streets", stated the manager.
“Printemps must become a place of innovation and surprises. It must also be human and committed, while maintaining its elegant and inspiring character. We need to make it a must-see, memorable destination that triggers emotions," he added, describing a simpler, more timeless, digital-friendly 'Printemps' logo. The spring-ready green is accompanied by white and touches of gold, in a nod to the domes of Paris. The products’ packaging and signage (with more rounded corners) have been revised, while the first initial of the store (the P), slightly mimicking the shape of a heart, becomes the company’s visual emblem.
These new codes also apply to the e-shop, which has seen its sales increase by 30% in two years, and that will launch its latest version on Saturday. It will offer more inspirational content, more live shopping, and will soon offer second-hand items. Printemps invested in the second-hand market last year by unveiling “7e ciel” (7th Heaven): a 1,300 square-meter space that opened last year on the top floor of the Haussmann store dedicated to circular fashion and second-hand items. "It's already a success, with an average of 2,000 people going up there every day. Our turnover is above our target, and we buy as many products from customers as we sell. It’s a self-sustaining space!”, exclaimed Bellaiche with satisfaction.
In addition to the brand image, the range of products offered at the flagship is also being renewed. The building’s mythical dome with its colorful stained glass windows, which previously housed a brasserie, "will become an event space that will change its face every six months,” announced Karen Vernet, chief merchandising officer of Printemps. The chosen theme for March and September is coastal, with two thirds of the space occupied by beachwear, and the remaining third by a beach bar / restaurant. On the food side, the "Café vert" (coffee and plants) and Machi Machi (Bubble tea) will also be joining the store.
On the fashion side, the department store's unsold items will be given a second chance in the new "Out of Season" area, located on the third floor, which classifies clothing, accessories and decor from previous seasons by color. The "Maria Luisa" designer space, named after the well-known fashion buyer, is also being renovated since her collaboration with the department store has come to an end. "L'endroit'' will be taking its place, hosting 35 cutting-edge brands (on the 2nd floor). Through the Campus Mode association, young fashion and design students will also be given a residence on the 4th floor in the "Ready up!” space and will have the chance to interact with visitors.
On the other hand, the new "Tout doux" corner highlights "loungewear brands and products that reflect consumers’ new lifestyle habits", said Vernet. Finally, Au Vieux Campeur, which took up residency in the store in 2020, is treating itself to a six-metre high climbing wall on the ground floor of the Homme building, where outdoor products are additionally on display.
Another first foray for the department store? Its entry into the world of the metaverse, with a virtual fashion pop-up entrusted to DressX located at the entrance to Printemps Femme. The company will additionally develop five exclusive physical products for the occasion. Printemps is also opening a virtual store on its e-shop where the clients are able to wander around, and is creating its first NFTs in collaboration with the artist Romain Froquet. They will be offered to customers through a draw (in collaboration with the Arianee platform).
In the beauty department, a partnership has been set up with Kiss Kiss Bank to promote start-ups in the sector via a competition. At the end of the competition, three of them will be distributed in the department store, which also launched a new space, "beauty food", distributing around fifteen holistic beauty brands (food supplements, powders, etc.).
These changes to the flagship will also be implemented to the provincial network of stores. 150 square meters on the ground floor of Printemps in Lille will be refurbished as a luxury area (in May) for instance, while a new beauty concept will launch at the Marseille store in the Terrasses du Port mall. The 7th Heaven project will also be rolled out to a handful of these locations over the course of the year.
After closing three Printemps stores last year, the group, which pilots 29 stores in France (20 Printemps and 9 Citadium), foresees a revival, with annual sales (from April 2021 to March 2022) up 38% year-on-year, on a like-for-like basis, even if this level is still 12% lower than in the 2019/20 financial year. “This is a good performance, since even if some international customers are coming back in numbers (Europe, United States, Middle East), the Asian clientele is not yet back", explained Bellaiche, who specified that between October and December 2021, purchases made by American customers jumped by 53% (compared to 2019). He also hopes that Chinese consumers will travel to France again by mid-2023 or even 2024.
Local customers, who represent three quarters of its visitors in France (50% at Haussmann), drove the activity of the department store chain over the past year, with an increase in their purchases of 10% (compared to two years ago) at group level, and +15% for the Haussmann flagship store. Traffic as a whole is now down 30% compared to 2018, with nearly 50 million annual visitors throughout the retail network. Bellaiche is very cautious about the activity of the next few months due to the impact of the war in Ukraine, but nevertheless expects a return to equilibrium by the end of the 2022/23 financial year.
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