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Louis Vuitton store set to close

Luxury leather goods store Louis Vuitton is to close, the company said yesterday.

The iconic fashion store will shut its doors for the last time at the end of next month, with the loss of up to four jobs.

Greg Tolaram, director of owners Atlantic Luggage Co Ltd, which owns the store in partnership with Louis Vuitton, said his firm had pledged to help staff find jobs elsewhere.

He added: “We are looking to reposition people in terms of jobs — there will be a few jobs lost, but we're doing our best to reposition them as soon as possible and assist them in that regard.”

A spokeswoman for Louis Vuitton's New York HQ confirmed: “It has been a pleasure for Louis Vuitton to serve the Bermuda community.

“Unfortunately, the market opportunity in Bermuda does not support maintaining our store presence once our lease expires at the end of April.”

Mr Tolaram declined to say whether falling sales had contributed to the decision by Louis Vuitton, part of the giant luxury goods company LVMH, to pull out of Bermuda.

But he said: “We have had a wonderful experience — you can't run a business of this calibre without having good partners. We have had wonderful partners in Louis Vuitton.”

The store opened 16 years ago and underwent a total refit less than three years ago.

The revamp meant the shop could display a larger range of Louis Vuitton goods, which includes handbags, luggage and accessories, including ties, jewellery and sunglasses.

Louis Vuitton vice-president for Canada and Bermuda Jean-Philippe Hecquet said then that the company had invested in the store because it was “doing extremely well”.

He added that the store sold mostly to an Island-based clientele, rather than tourists.

The decision by the global luxury brand — famed for its monogrammed handbags and one of the few global names to have a presence on the Island — is a fresh blow to a retail sector already reeling from recession and will leave another gap on once-thriving Front Street.

Bermuda Chamber of Commerce president Ronnie Viera said: “It is very disappointing to hear of the closure of Louis Vuitton and the associated job losses.

“While the restaurant and the real estate industries may have seen an improvement in 2013 over 2012, the retail market in Bermuda has yet to show any meaningful signs of recovery.”

He added: “In general, luxury brands do well, even in a recessionary market.

“The Hamilton and St George's retailers are both feeling the effects of not having a regular cruise ship in port, the result being fewer visitors and a corresponding drop in sales.

But Mr Viera said: “Nevertheless, we remain hopeful that the measures taken by Government in the form of extending the payroll tax concessions will lessen the burden on the retailers until the industry improves. “

Education and Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons was yesterday off the Island and unavailable for comment.

LVMH also owns upmarket brands like champagne houses Dom Perignon and Moet & Chandon, as well as cognac firm Hennessy and a list of other luxury jewellery, watch and clothing firms.

Louis Vuitton, which has hundreds of stores around the globe, is the world's most valuable luxury brand, worth more than $26 billion.

Photo by Akil Simmons Greg Tolaram, director of owners Atlantic Luggage Co Ltd, which owns the Island's only Louis Vuitton store in partnership with Louis Vuitton, said his firm has pledged to help four staff find jobs elsewhere as it is wound up at the end of the month.

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Published March 25, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated March 25, 2014 at 12:38 am)

Louis Vuitton store set to close

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