Safety fears bring down the shutters at La Samaritaine

La Samaritaine, the famous Parisian department store, is to close for at least four years while renovation work is carried out after it was declared unsafe.

The store, which is loved by generations of Parisian shoppers and tourists alike for its decorative style and the views from its roof terrace, will close next week after a police report said the 133-year-old building was a fire risk.

Managers will then decide whether to cease trading completely for at least four years or to opt for a partial closure that would mean the work could take more than 10 years to complete.

The store's managing director, Bruno Villeneuve, said the renovation process would cost an estimated €100m (£66m) and the closure would mean the store's owners, the luxury goods group LVMH, losing around €3m a week.

The report said the buildings metal structure and ventilation systems did not meet safety standards.

"The decision to close is the worst solution economically," La Samaritaine's president , Philippe de Beauvoir, said. "But the situation is so alarming that I cannot permit the store to be opened." All 750 staff will be retained on full pay and around half of them - mainly security and administrative employees - will be required to continue working.

Located on the banks of the Seine, between the Louvre and the Notre Dame cathedral, La Samaritaine was opened in 1872 by a former travelling salesman, Theodore-Ernest Cognacq, and his wife, Marie-Louise Jay. They chose to name it after an ancient hydraulic water pump on the nearby Pont Neuf bridge decorated with an image of Jesus speaking to the Good Samaritan.

At the turn of the century, there was a revolution in shopping habits as France introduced department stores to the world and La Samaritaine was at the vanguard of fashion. Its extravagant Art Deco and Art Nouveau stylings, cast iron railings and vaulted glass ceilings typified the new shopping palaces and, as its popularity grew, the store quickly expanded into adjacent buildings.

The company stayed in the Cognacq-Jay family until the 1990s when it ran into financial trouble after losing customers and paying the cost of upkeep on the by now decrepit building. The family sold one of the stores on the Rue de Rivoli shopping thoroughfare to retailer Etam.

French luxury goods and retailing group LVMH took over as main shareholder in 2001 and was in the process of introducing its luxury brands such as Chritian Dior and Lacroix to attract a younger clientelle.

Up until this week, as many as 50,000 shopers were still visiting the store every day, and it remains a popular tourist attraction.

While workers were reassured to learn they were not to lose their jobs, some were less than optimistic about their future. "We all know each other, it's one big family," said a saleswoman, Jessie Benquet. "It's already the end of an era."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballI have never seen the point of lambasting the fourth official, writes Paul Scholes
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee