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I don’t believe in ghosts, but I could swear that I’ve just seen a Virgin Megastore half way up the Champs-Élysées. by Angela Beevers


I thought that the music and DVD retailer was long since dead and buried after its new owners in the UK rebranded their stores Zavvi, before sadly descending into insolvency. But here in Paris, on a street with some of the world’s highest retail rental rates, the much-loved UK-born brand soldiers on. It’s one of many pleasant surprises to be found of the French capital’s shopping streets.

In fact, the Virgin Megastore chain survives all over France with more than 30 branches owned by Butler Capital Partners and Lagadère Group.

However, they face strong competition from the native Fnac, which would  appear to have a more future-proof and robust business model. This chain of entertainment superstores not only sells CDs and DVDs, it also supplies a full selection of books, TVs, computers, hi-fi equipment, mobile phones, MP3 players and basically all things digital, with dedicated areas for a good range of Apple products. In addition, it is a leading ticket agency.

By taking a much broader approach to selling entertainment, Fnac would appear to be better placed to avoid the difficulties that took out Zavvi and are now impacting on HMV/Waterstones. It has been expanding internationally with stores in Belgium, Brazil, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Taiwan, and also has a strong online business. Back in 2007, Fnac has expressed an interest in entering the UK market with a store in London.

This is the third in a series of short postings prompted by a recent flying visit to Paris.


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