PARIS (Reuters) - Luxury goods firm LVMH <LVMH.PA> is opening a second high-end food hall in Paris, betting on growing appetite from locals for gourmet groceries as the group spruces up its stores across the French capital.
The launch of the three-story food hall, in the well-heeled 16th district of western Paris, comes amid a wave of investment in luxury stores and hotels in the French capital by LVMH and other firms hoping to profit from a recovery in tourist traffic following a wave of deadly Islamist militant attacks.
The new branch of La Grande Epicerie de Paris, LVMH's high-end grocery brand, however, is away from the city's usual tourist trails.
The group said it was pitching this launch at Paris residents who might think twice before crossing town to the southerly Left Bank to shop at LVMH's existing gourmet grocery, which is next to the group's landmark Le Bon Marche department store and comes under that retailer's umbrella.
The new branch - on the site of a former department store, Franck & Fils, which LVMH already owned - is the first attempt to expand the Grande Epicerie brand.
"Franck & Fils was running out of steam. We wanted to energise our retail sites," Le Bon Marche's Chairman and Chief Executive Patrice Wagner, said.
LVMH, run by Bernard Arnault, France's richest man, is also renovating its riverside La Samaritaine department store, which has been closed since 2005.
The project to turn it into a luxury complex with a hotel, designer shops and offices had hit several snags, but it is due to open next year.
Rival hoteliers are also re-launching sites in Paris.
LVMH's new food hall, due to open on Thursday, boasts a vertical herb garden on one of its facades, an underground wine cellar and Iberian ham outlet, and a high-end restaurant.
Wagner declined to detail how much LVMH had invested in the revamp or to give sales figures, adding only that revenues at the new store were expected to reach two or three times Franck & Fils levels in the next three years.
Analysts estimate Le Bon Marche's annual sales stand at around 550 million euros (£486 million). LVMH does not break out sales at its brands, which include fashion house Louis Vuitton and Krug champagne.
Roughly 40 percent of Le Bon Marche's sales are driven by tourists, Wagner said, though the grocery segment relies less on foreign visitors.
(Reporting by Sarah White and Pascale Denis; Editing by Adrian Croft)