Cartier packs its bags to let Prada move into Brown Thomas

RECESSIONS work in funny ways – while demand for diamond baubles might be falling, handbags appear to be bucking the trend.

The appetite among fashion lovers for Prada handbags is so strong that the brand is taking over the space occupied by Cartier in Brown Thomas when the jeweller pulls out of the Grafton Street store in the new year.

Sales of Prada handbags increased by 100pc over the past year at Brown Thomas, despite price tags of €900 and upwards.

Next year the Italian brand is doubling its concession space at the store.

Chanel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton accessories boutiques at the store are also having to grow in size to cope with increased business.

"They are performing so well, we have to give them more space," said Shelly Corkery, Brown Thomas's fashion director.

"Chanel business is just escalating through the roof, Hermes is very strong and sales of Celine handbags are on fire.

"The Cartier boutique closes on January 7; it just didn't work for us really," said Ms Corkery.

"It was a good business, but it wasn't working for either party. It didn't reach the expectation that we would have thought.

"Our Prada business is up over 100pc on last year so they are screaming for more space.

"Obviously we cannot have a boutique that's not working sitting in a prime location and another boutique that is working, so we worked with everyone for the best possibility."

The lowest price for an Hermes bag is €6,500 and while their famous ' Kelly' style, named after Grace Kelly, is a popular seller, orders have been taken for crocodile bags costing between €35,000 and €42,000.

However, last-minute Christmas shoppers can forget it. There is a waiting list at Hermes and you could face a two- to three-year wait for delivery.

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