Luxury retail broker Betrand de Soultrait may have found the new cronut.
The French-born founder and principal of Bertwood Realty arranged a West Village lease for French pastry store, Aux Merveilleux.
The shop opened its doors earlier this year, with de Soultrait boldly predicting that the meringue will soon displace cronuts in terms of generating long lines and inspiring a baffling level of idolatry.
The deal was the latest from the dealmaker, who has been busy bridging commerce across the Atlantic.
De Soultrait recently expanded his firm’s operations to Washington, D.C., Boston and Los Angeles, partnering with local brokers to bring high-end European brands to new locations in the US.
“We’re very busy in New York City, but this service basically came naturally because our clients, when they start opening doors in New York, they’re looking to expand. We don’t want to lose their business, so we organize ourselves in providing service to them through local brokers in each large city,” de Soultrait said.
His firm, which once operated exclusively in Manhattan, previously found homes for brands such as women’s shoe company, Sam Edelman, and designer shoes and handbag maker, Vince Camuto.
With its growing reputation as a conduit for European investment, the firm is now working on other segments of the luxury spectrum.
The company is currently working on spaces in the three cities for French sweets maker, Ladurée, eyewear company, Anne et Valentin, and French fashion brand, Lilith.
Ladurée already has locations in 864 Madison Avenue and at 398 West Broadway in Soho. Anne et Valentin has stores in 2 Prince Street in Manhattan and 200 Smith Street in Brooklyn. Lilith, meanwhile, has a store front at 227 Mulberry Street in Nolita. The new deals continue a long-standing pattern for de Soultrait, who has made a career out of finding locations for European luxury retail brands that are looking to expand to New York.
Bertwood, which started with just two brokers – Abe Bischoupan and Richard Gnouma – has just hired three more agents.
The company is in place to benefit from the increasingly healthy appetite of European investors for New York real estate. His firm, which is the exclusive broker for French-American real estate investment group Black Tulip, will be working on its $75 million investment in New York City.
Last year, Black Tulip revealed that 80 percent of its New York investment has been earmarked for existing properties. The remainder will be directed towards new developments.
Europeans, particularly the French, are said to be placing money in New York City real estate in hopes of getting stable returns, something that is supposedly harder to come by in their own country. Investors are said to unhappy about the policies of President Francois Hollande, who ran on a platform of taxing the rich. Hollande, who recently gained the distinction of becoming the most unpopular French president when his approval rating plummeted to 26 percent, spooked businesses by proposing a 75 percent “super tax” on earnings over one million euros.
While the exodus is set to bring more business to Bertwood, de Soultrait insists that his firm’s expertise extends beyond speaking French.
“We understand retail very well. Above that, we understand international retail in America,” he said.
In 2005, de Soultrait founded Vicomte A, a French clothing brand, with his brother Arthur. His move towards real estate has meant a departure from the family enterprise. However, he still has an ownership stake.
The family’s retail chain has 350 outlets across Europe, the US, Asia, the Middle East and South America.