Luxury retailers boom in Oslo

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Norwegians are lusting after designer goods like never before. The Louis Vuitton shop in Oslo now has the highest sales per square meter in the country, and its success is likely encouraging the other top fashion houses that are heading for the capital.

Business has been booming at the Louis Vuitton shop in downtown Oslo. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

As the economic crisis deepens in the eurozone countries, Norwegians are splashing their cash on classic European top brands like they’re going out of style.

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported recently that classic handbags, watches, jewellery and other exclusive goods are selling extremely well at the Louis Vuitton store on Akersgata in downtown Oslo. Since its opening six years ago, profit margins have soared, with sales rising by 50 percent since the finance crisis hit in 2008 and a hefty 15.6 percent last year alone.

Christian Ringnes of Eiendomsspar, Ringnes’ real estate firm that owns the premises of the Louis Vuitton shop, told DN that Norwegians account for around 70 percent of the sales, with only 30 percent generated by foreign visitors.

If the upswing continues, an increasing number of designer brands look likely to set up shop in the capital. Italian label Gucci, one of the most influential fashion houses in the world, has already chosen the location for its boutique. It’s set to open in March on a side street off Oslo’s Karl Johans gate and will have French fashion house Hermès as a neighbour. Clothes will have no place in the Gucci emporium, which will focus on luxury accessories such as bags and watches.

The Gucci shop will have a prominent, storefront spot in the Steen & Strøm shopping center in Oslo, which otherwise is aiming to lure more customers into its multi-story locale that also houses such shops as Burberry and Ralph Lauren but also less exclusive retailers like Vivikes. Hans Kristian Melbye of Jotunfjell Partners, an investment firm that took over 4,000 square meters of retail space in Steen & Strøm, told DN it’s important to have a mix of of retailers and not just exclusive brands.

Until fairly recently, the luxury goods market was relatively restrained in Norway, but it has now exploded. This is perhaps a result of shifting attitudes, growing hedonism and rising disposable incomes.

The trend looks set to transform some of Oslo’s downtown streets into havens of luxury boutiques and stores, good news for property developers.

“When you have several players who want to come in to a restricted area, it goes without saying that lease rates will rise,” Mari Hektoen, fashion director at Søylen Eiendom, told DN.

Views and News from Norway/Elizabeth Lindsay

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