Jeweler Targets Billionaires in Courchevel

Podium, a Russian fashion chain, said it opened its first foreign jewelry outlet in the Alpine resort of Courchevel, France, to target wealthy Russians on ski vacations.

The store will sell brands including Britain's Garrard at an average price of 15,000 euros ($21,500) to 20,000 euros per item, and will also focus on selling to rich skiers from Latin America and Arab countries, Podium spokesman Konstantin Samoilov said, Kommersant reported Thursday.

Courchevel will host about one-fifth more Russian tourists this season, said Viktor Kuzerin, who runs Sodis, a travel agency, the newspaper reported.

A Russian tourist last season booked the most expensive suite in a local hotel at a rate of 28,000 euros a night, said Julia Morozova, co-owner of CBAgency, which organizes parties at the resort, Kommersant reported.

Kommersant said Podium would not disclose its ownership, though sources in the industry said the retailer was founded by Eduard Kitsenko and Igor Krayushkin.

Russian billionaires who have visited Courchevel include Norilsk Nickel co-owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who was arrested there in January before being cleared by a French judge.

Prokhorov this week called for French authorities to close the investigation and apologize for his arrest.

"In January, my winter vacation in France was spoiled by local police, who arrested me and my friends without giving any reasonable explanations. The investigation has since not moved an inch forward," Prokhorov said in a statement issued to the French media that was also posted on his blog, RIA-Novosti reported Wednesday.

"Neither I nor my friends intend to come to France until the investigation is completed and apologies are made," Prokhorov said.

Bloomberg, MT