The cultural offer – CDs, books, magazines, DVDs, different accessories… have during the last decades moved from small shops to some leading chains, e.g. FNAC … and Virgin Megastores.
Virgin Megastore has a dominant place on the Champs-Elysées. Since 1988 it occupies the major part of the building which was created in 1931 for the First National Bank. (The architect was André Arfvidson, who was responsible for a number of remarkable buildings in Paris; you can read about one of them in one of my previous posts.) The building was recently bought by the Quatar.
Virgin Megastore will most probably disappear from the more and more expensive Champs-Elysées and perhaps altogether in France, with its remaining 25 shops and 1000 employees. Created by Sir Richard Branson, but since long sold by him, the hundreds of stores worldwide have already to a large extent disappeared, e.g. in UK, US, Italy, Spain, Canada, Australia…. The takeovers have in majority lead to closures. Some hundred Virgin Megastores remain (for how long?) in France, Germany, the Middle East...
The French ownership was first in 2001 in majority taken over by the Lagardère group, in 2007 sold to an investment company, Butler Capital Partners*, heavily criticized by employees and syndicates for having neglected the needed transformation, adaptation, to a changing market. The liquidation of the French branch was declared this week.
*/ Walter Butler is a French-American businessman, who has had advisory roles for the French government and also has a past as director at Goldman Sachs.
Also FNAC is in difficulties. Yes, the market is changing. Soon, we will have the choice to buy – with a very restricted choice - at supermarkets or on internet. Who will take over the Champs-Elysées building? Zara, H&M, Apple, Hermès …?
In the meantime and before closure, here are some photos of the Virgin Megastore on the Champs-Elysées.
Especially when you visit the book shop, downstairs the past of the bank building is very visible.