Store design, brands and consumer relationships can help store-based retailers thrive in the face of online competition, said Printemps’ boss.

Paolo De Cesare, chief executive French department store Printemps, told World Retail Congress that focusing on its “unique assets” was critical to remain relevant to consumers.

He said: “Digitisation is putting pressure on us to differentiate and create exclusivity in a world where everything is available everywhere.”

“We are moving from selling products to creating experiences.”

De Cesare said Printemps was pursuing the “7E” strategy for its stores, to make them enjoyable, exclusive, exciting, excellence, eternal, elegant and experiential.

“If we deliver that and produce something unique, we’ll get them coming back to our stores, he said.

De Cesare said that involved leveraging and investing in its stores, a strategy that had seen it investing €50m in its flagship Haussmann store in Paris.

He also urged retailers to concentrate on its loyal customers. Printemps has focused on the 15% of customers that accounts for 55% of sales, he said.

Its “high touch” personal shopping service had helped drive sales, he said.  The personal shoppers are able to serve speakers of all languages and De Cesare said 80% of its personal shopping business was repeat custom and its staff in the department are five to seven times more productive than normal standard assistants.

Printemps is also vying to target tourists. It opened a store in the Louvre museum this year, the only store in Paris to sell luxury goods on Sundays.