[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 10 June, 2005, 18:47 GMT 19:47 UK
Top Paris store 'was fire risk'
The interior of La Samaritaine
La Samaritaine needs urgent safety improvements
The old Paris department store La Samaritaine is to be shut for several years because inspections found it a serious fire risk.

A police report said the building on the banks of the Seine needed urgent safety renovations.

"The situation is so alarming that I cannot permit the store to be opened," said La Samaritaine's president.

Even though the store will be closed for at least three years, staff are being retained on full pay.

Three-hundred of the 750 workers - mainly security and administrative staff - will be expected to go into work.

'Harmonious blend'

The president, Philippe de Beauvoir, told le Parisien newspaper: "We think it will take several years of work, probably a minimum of three to four years.

"The decision to close is the worst solution economically."

However, he added, "there is no question of taking the slightest risk".

Staff of La Samaritaine
Staff have been told they will be retained on full pay

The elegant building is described on its website as "an architectural monument in which Art Nouveau and Art Deco blend harmoniously".

As many as 50,000 people pass through the department store's doors each day, buying a wide variety of goods.

Its owner, LVMH, the luxury goods maker, was already planning to relaunch the store as a showcase for its designer labels such as Christian Dior and Lacroix.

"Of course I'm sad," shopper Liliane Petit told Reuters.

"It's a very famous shop because it's very old, of my parents' generation and my grandparents'. I've been coming here since I was a girl."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific