High-net-worth individuals are ditching Paris in fear of terror attacks and robberies

France’s fashion and luxury sector is beginning to suffer 

In the midst of a string of terrorist attacks and robberies, experts say France’s $18bn fashion and luxury sector is under threat - but it’s fuelling a boom in sales for Britain. 

While acts of terrorism often result in short-term plunges in retail sales, recent attacks combined with violent muggings of high net worth individuals are leading tourists to believe that the City of Light is not as safe as it once was.

As a result, Britain is now perceived as a safer destination, and fast becoming the go-to place for foreign visitors looking to buy expensive goods.

In October, reality star Kim Kardashian was held at gunpoint inside a luxury apartment during Paris Fashion Week where she was robbed of millions of dollars’ worth of jewellery. But, this wasn’t an isolated incident. 

Last month, Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat and her partner were attacked with tear gas in a botched robbery attempt, and there has been a spate of muggings on the A1 freeway.

A road that connects Paris to the Le Bourget airport - Europe’s busiest terminal for private jets - it has been the site of two robberies in the past two months alone.

Two wealthy Qatari sisters and a French businessman, were both attacked by robbers who forced their targets off the road using tear gas; they were robbed of millions of dollars’ worth of personal belongings.

While it’s difficult to judge the extent to which these events are contributing to Paris’ slump in sales, France has seen a drop of eight per cent in foreign tourists since January of this year.

“I think foreign high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) have moved away from France, on the back of the terrorist attacks,” Luca Solca, head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas, told Business of Fashion.

 “Burglaries and hold ups make the situation only worse. London and Switzerland are benefiting as a consequence,” he adds.

Consequently, British luxury fashion house Burberry revealed earlier this year that its UK sales had risen by more than a third and it’s not the only brand to benefit.

London department store, Harrods, enjoyed its best ever weeks of trading this year as HNWIs flooded the UK thanks to the weaker pound, and the assurance of safety. 

“Security concerns in Europe have been a major driver of people to the UK. For much of the Middle Eastern market, they didn’t feel safe or welcome in France, and so have come to the UK,” Michael Ward, managing director of Harrods told the Financial Times.

Nonetheless, Paris still ranks near the top of the list of the world’s top ten fashion capitals, valuing between five and six per cent of the overall global luxury market. But, the recent string of brazen robberies and attacks threatens to further disturb its postion.

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