Fire risk forces La Samaritaine to close

10th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 10 (AFP) - The landmark Paris department store La Samaritaine is to close for several years from next week after inspectors found that the century-old building by the River Seine falls catastrophically short of fire safety norms.

PARIS, June 10 (AFP) - The landmark Paris department store La Samaritaine is to close for several years from next week after inspectors found that the century-old building by the River Seine falls catastrophically short of fire safety norms.  

According to a police report, the listed art deco structure needs to be urgently renovated to replace antiquated electrical circuits, malfunctioning smoke extraction systems and inflammable wooden flooring.  

"The situation is so alarming that I cannot permit the store to be opened to the public any longer... There is no question of taking the slightest risk," said La Samaritaine's president Philippe de Beauvoir.  

The store - which was bought four years ago by the luxury goods house LVMH - will shut next Wednesday and is unlikely to re-open before 2009, he said.  

At a general assembly Friday morning, the 750 employees were told they will be retained on full pay, though only some 300 - mainly security and administrative staff - will be expected to turn up for work.  

Originally opened in 1869, La Samaritaine is one of the best-loved Paris emporia but the last 15 years have seen a drastic decline in sales. LVMH was planning to bring the store upmarket, as a showcase for its numerous designer labels such as Christian Dior and Lacroix.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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