Eleonore de Boysson, the Europe and Middle East head of DFS Group – a retail and duty free company majority owned by LVMH which runs the department store – said it may take one or two years for tourists to return en masse to France. La Samaritaine expects around 5 million visitors a year when things go back to normal.
“We wanted to reopen at a time when life is starting to come back,” she said.
The store will host 600 brands, of which 50 exclusively, and offer shoppers a wide range of prices.
It hopes to rival peers like Qatari-controlled Printemps and family-owned Galeries Lafayette. Some 37 million shoppers visit the latter’s main store in Paris every year.
LVMH, which first snapped up a stake in La Samaritaine in 2001, has spent 750 million euros on its makeover, which includes a contemporary, undulating glass exterior on one side by Japanese architectural duo SANAA.
The store had to shut its doors in 2005 as its original glass flooring was not sufficiently fire-resistant.
The complex will include a luxury rooftop hotel and be home to 96 flats under a social housing scheme.