Leica enters the poshness of Burlington Arcade
Today Leica opened its first "pop-up" store in London's exclusive Burlington Arcade which runs north from Piccadilly near the Royal Academy. This covered street has been "the epitome of luxury since it was first unveiled to great acclaim in 1819".
The small Burlington boutique is starting life as a temporary "pop-up" outlet for the Christmas season but is likely to become a permanent feature. A Leica spokesman told me that the nearby main store in Bruton Place is a "destination outlet" where people go for a specific reason. There is virtually no passing trade. Burlington Arcade, on the other hand, is a browser's wonderland in the heart of Mayfair and will expose the Leica brand to a much wider and very wealthy audience.
The new store follows Apple's principle of establishing a presence in high-footprint, prestige locations rather than in the backwaters favoured out of necessity by traditional computer and camera retailers. By selling direct, both Apple and Leica can afford the higher rents that are not viable for smaller traders who are often on restricted margins.
Following the opening of company-owned stores in many cities throughout the world, Leica is establishing the brand as a luxury item to compete for passing trade with the likes of Louis Vuitton. This sales technique will undoubtedly lead to increased sales, particularly of the lower-end, Japanese-made Leica-badged Panasonics. But local Leica enthusiast will still prefer the personal service and knowledge available from leading dealers such as Red Dot, R.G.Lewis and Richard Caplan (who has just opened in a very exclusive area, Pall Mall, only a few minutes' walk from the new Leica pop-up store).