— It has just opened at the heart of Paris and is the world’s largest Piaget boutique. Join us for an exclusive tour of a bold and visionary location.
“Yes indeed, it represents a very large investment, especially over an entire year when we are paying the rent and doing building work without any revenue. But as you will see in due course, it will be superb and I think you will surprised.”
These were the typically frank terms used last December by Piaget’s CEO Philippe Léopold-Metzger to describe the building site at number 7 Rue de la Paix, a few metres from the Place Vendôme in Paris. A monumental site of exceptional proportions: 12 months of work involving 20 different professions and totalling 26,000 hours dedicated to 510 square metres on two floors. While the term “flagship” has become a regular way of describing these prestigious brand boutiques, it has perhaps never been quite so appropriate as it for Piaget: this is not just a boutique, but a full-fledged palace.
So the only real question is: why so splendid? “Because it’s no secret that the year 2014 was tough for everyone and that implies a need to invest, to reinforce brand presence and visibility”, comes the clear-cut answer from the CEO at the helm of this watchmaking vessel moored to the capital of luxury. And also, incidentally, because this place used to be under the beneficial ownership of the Richemont Group’s “cousin”, Montblanc – a precious family tie that served to secure this much sought-after location, the last of this size on the strategic Parisian luxury shopping mile.
Richemont logic at work
Basically, Paris can be seen as the lynchpin of the global Piaget strategy, itself mirroring the Richemont Group’s policy of giving priority to top points of sale with fast-paced successive openings, even in times of crisis.
By way of example, Panerai opened 16 boutiques during the previous fiscal year and during the current one Van Cleef & Arpels has opened nine, Jaeger-LeCoultre seven. Piaget, which had opened 12 during the previous year, has cut this figure by half for this year.
While the crisis contributed to this slow-down, it was not the only factor. The Plan-les-Ouates site underwent a second extension phase last year to accommodate its almost 500 employees (for a production volume estimated at around 30,000 units per year), following the initial work done in 2008. The Parisian boutique has doubtless also swallowed up considerable sums of money.
Almost the entire range of collections in one place
This boutique does indeed offer the kind of generous space that is extremely usual in the watchmaking world and even in that of luxury boutiques as a whole. According to the brand, it has been “conceived and designed as an authentic living space”. The ground floor is dedicated to men’s and ladies’ replica watches collections as well as to Haute Horlogerie, and features “almost the entire range”. While there will not be a boutique piece specially created to mark the occasion, as was the case for the nearby Vacheron Constantin opening, Paris should however take priority for certain unique or highly exclusive models. These will notably be given a chance to shine in one of the two front windows of the boutique, whose pedestrian façade is one of the longest on the Rue de la Paix and will provide scope for special animations “like the Christmas animations at the Galeries Lafayette” as the brand puts it.
With more than 500 square metres at its disposal, Piaget naturally took the opportunity to devote its upper floor to wedding and engagement jewellery, as well as to Haute Joaillerie. And that’s not all: “The central area of the upper floor is entirely modular. We can for example set up a table there and organise dinners, as well as exhibitions”.
At the end of the day, this Piaget palace is not setting a new benchmark, since its sheer size would be hard to reproduce elsewhere. Yet the “7 Paix” address is significantly raising the bar as to what can be done in the field of prestige sales areas.