Louis Vuitton opens in Beirut, Hermes to follow suit

French luxury fashion and accessories brand HERMES  has announced the opening, at the end of this month, of a monobrand boutique in Beirut, its first in Lebanon. The boutique will be a franchised operation with a local partner. Three new openings are planned within the next two years, in Kuwait, UAE and Saudi Arabia, all franchised operations, adding to the existing five boutiques in the region.

Last week, Louis Vuitton opened its first store in Beirut. The Louis Vuitton boutique, which is directly operated, was opened in the Downtown area, by the Souks upscale mall. Other recent openings in Beirut include the monobrand boutiques of Christian Louboutin, Burberry, Officine Panerai, Jimmy Choo and Yves Saint Laurent. With the exception of Vuitton all openings are franchised operations, the market being split between two retailers: local, Aishti and UAE based Luxury Clothing Company (LCC).

According to Oliver Petcu, luxury industry consultant at CPP, the potential of the Lebanese luxury market which relies on travellers from the Gulf region, has been over-evaluated and many international luxury brands should not have rushed to open monobrand stores, a multibrand representation would have been much more feasible for a long term strategy. Lebanon’s luxury market, much like its overall economy is heavily dependant on its internal political stability and its fragile relations with its neighbours.