It’s a page that is turning… or not completely. After the official announcement of the takeover of the famous Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville - more commonly known as the BHV Marais - many questions are being asked about the future of this Parisian department store. Will he change his name? Will it maintain its position?
Until then under the control of the Galeries Lafayette group, the BHV was officially sold to the Société des Grands Stores (SGM), a family business specializing in the rehabilitation of city center commercial assets headed by Frédéric Merlin. A maneuver completed at the end of several months of negotiations "after having obtained the approval of the competent regulatory authorities", specified Galeries Lafayette in a press release, which added that the Parly 2 store (located in the Westfield shopping center in Chesnay -Rocquencourt in Yvelines) is also part of the deal.
“The Galeries Lafayette group and the SGM group share the same vision of the place that large-scale retail should play in the heart of cities, and maintain relationships of trust following the affiliation of seven stores from the French Galeries Lafayette network to SGM in 2021 (Angers, Dijon, Grenoble, Le Mans, Limoges, Orléans and Reims)", continues the group in this same press release, saying it is "convinced that the SGM group will be the most committed and innovative player to continue to grow the potential of these two department stores with the help of their teams.
“We are happy and proud to be able to write, alongside the teams, a new chapter in the history of BHV Marais, in the heart of the most beautiful city in the world,” said Frédéric Merlin. The president of the SGM group assures that he wants to “work in depth with all employees in order to continue the growth of this prestigious store, and that of Parly 2, while preserving the DNA and values of BHV”. In addition, it has the ambition “to offer high-quality shopping experiences, and to fully contribute to the life and entertainment of this dynamic district in the center of Paris”.
In an interview with Le Parisien last February, the latter had already announced his project to “capitalize on the deep DNA of BHV which is DIY, home, decoration, culture and leisure. And generate flow.” “We have the incredible opportunity to be able to write a commercial route in an entire neighborhood,” he explained at the time, clearly wishing to stand out from the neighboring Samaritaine, which opened less than a kilometer a little further on the Rivoli Street. “The positioning on ultra luxury was a mistake (...) Galeries Lafayette has started to correct the situation. We will continue in their footsteps,” he continued.
It is therefore definitively an end to ultra luxury at BHV, the SGM group instead intends to “respond more to the expectations of Parisians by offering them a range of offers accessible to all budgets and by making BHV a destination, with quality leisure and food. No major changes therefore, nor change of name for this building called “Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville” since 1860. “We will continue what Galeries Lafayette initiated,” promises Frédéric Merlin. A position that has not changed since, as those around him confirm.
The idea is “to continue the development of the two stores (BHV Marais and Parly 2) and continue to promote this very prestigious BHV brand which has proven its strength”, we explain internally at SGM, confirming that it was well planned “to build on the strong points that have made the reputation of the BHV”. That is to say DIY, home, furniture, leisure and culture. And this, “while working to renovate the store and develop the offer so that it responds to the new trends of Parisians”.
If there is currently no question of closing the store, despite “major renovation work” to come, the precise project of the SGM group has not yet been revealed. “The objective is to make it the department store of Parisians”, and this, while – unlike other Parisian department stores such as Samaritaine or Galeries Lafayette – the vast majority of BHV’s clientele is Parisian. Initially, the SGM teams plan to “take the time to discuss and rely on employees who have knowledge of customers and products, while continuing to market the basics of BHV”.
The biggest change could ultimately come from the seven Galeries Lafayette stores bought by the SGM group in the provinces in 2021, in Angers, Dijon, Grenoble, Le Mans, Limoges, Orléans and Reims. “The stores belong to us and we operate them within the framework of an affiliation contract”, we underline at SGM, which assures us that for the moment there is no question of transforming them into BHV stores . This 2021 purchase and today’s “are two different operations”, we insist. But it is a safe bet that the SGM group will one day have the ambition to shed the Galeries Lafayette name in favor of the one that now belongs to it: that is to say “BHV”.