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Luxury Swiss retail giant Richemont, owner of such brands as Cartier, Piaget and Jaeger-LeCoultre, is to open the world’s largest shop for luxury watches in Paris.

Business Montres quoted an internal memo saying a three-storey 2,200 square metre (24,000 square foot) shop would open early 2013.

The shop would take over the premises of the landmark Old England shop near the Place Vendome, famous for its luxury watch shops and hugely popular with Middle Eastern and Asian tourists, in particular Chinese.

France’s La Tribune daily said Richemont would pay 70 million euros ($94 million) for the site.

Swiss luxury watch distributor Bucherer would run the new shop, with Richemont stumping up the cash.

“Watch-lovers will find a top-level selection of famous and prestigious watches, in an exclusive atmosphere,” Bucherer’s management was quoted as saying in the memo dated November 30.

Cartier boss Bernard Fornas told Les Echos financial daily that the new site would make it easier to receive coachloads of tourists.

The shop would also be close to the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores, favourite haunts of Chinese tourists who spend an average 1,400 euros a day shopping in Paris, duty free group Global Blue said.

Chinese tourists spend hundreds of millions of euros a year in France, and the number of Asian visitors continues to rise steeply.

An analyst who asked not to be named noted that Paris currently had no luxury flagship shop and that the proposed new location was “very strategic.”

Business Montres said that the Paris watch market would undergo major changes, with the rise of big shops forcing the closure of many small retailers.

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