Mulberry is to close its Paris store – and plans to reopen in the city only once international tourism has resumed following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The luxury leather brand’s French business is to bring to an early end its lease of its Rue Saint Honoré store, which it expects to move out of in September. The move is set to generate £13.2m, equivalent to £10.8m cash after tax, which it will use as it invests in its strategy.
Looking ahead, the retailer is plotting a long-term return to the city. “The company plans to open a new store in Paris once international tourism returns,” it says in today’s announcement. “The objective will be a location which supports the company’s omnichannel approach and optimises its customer centric retail experience.”
Somerset-based Mulberry cut back on stores and staffing during the early months of the pandemic, cutting a quarter of its global workforce and closing eight stores. The business’ physical stores have been hit hard by the effects of the pandemic both on footfall and on tourism, and it has focused instead on digital growth. In the first half of its latest financial year, to September 26 2020, its digital sales grew by 68% to £23.4m – but in-store sales fell by 55% to £19.4m.
At the time, Mulberry chief executive Thierry Andretta said: “We cannot avoid the fact that the damage the coronavirus has caused to business, decimating high streets and the tourism industry, is severe.” But the retailer also said that it was now concentrating on a strategy of building Mulberry as a sustainable luxury brand. “This,” he said, “is focused around: a truly omni-channel network and market leading digital platform, increased presence in Asia, and a relentless focus on innovation and sustainability, offering our customers beautiful products, made to last in our Somerset factories.”
Its future Paris store is likely to include digital technology that help staff to serve customers whether they are in the store on online, via virtual appointments, alongside omnichannel services that create a luxury experience for customers however they choose to shop.
Mulberry is a Top250 retailer in RXUK Top500 research.