El Palacio de Hierro

El Palacio de Hierro (El Palacio de Hierro S.A. de C.V.) (English: The Iron Palace) is an upscale chain of department stores in Mexico. Its flagship store in Polanco, Mexico City, which the company calls "El Palacio de los Palacios" ("The palace of all palaces"), reopened in 2016 after an extensive renovation of US$300 million and an expansion of 55,200 square metres (594,000 sq ft). It is the largest department store in Latin America.[1]

El Palacio de Hierro
TypeDepartment store
Founded1850 as Las Fábricas de Francia, 1891; 130 years ago (1891) as El Palacio de Hierro
HeadquartersMexico City, Mexico
Key people
Juan Carlos Escribano (CEO)

Claudia Fabela (CCO)

Ignacio Reynoso (CCO)
ProductsClothes, cosmetics, electronics, furniture


Original 1891 store, still in operation, Historic center of Mexico City
El Palacio de Hierro Polanco store, Mexico City

In the 1850s, a clothing store opened in Mexico City called "Las Fábricas de Francia" (The Factories of France) which was owned by Victor Gassier, a Frenchman (not to be confused with the currently existing stores Fábricas de Francia, operated by El Puerto de Liverpool). In 1860, Gassier teamed up with Alexander Reynaud, forming a business called Gassier & Reynaud.

In 1876, José Tron, his brother Henri and José Leautaud bought in, forming the association V. Gassier & Reynaud, Sucs. S. en C. In 1879 the business' formal name was changed to J. Tron y Cía.. However, it continued to trade as "Las Fábricas de Francia". From here Tron and Leautaud's endeavor met with considerable success.

In 1879, they began planning to build a department store in Mexico City similar to famous upscale, and high class stores in Paris (Le Bon Marché), New York City (Saks Fifth Avenue), London (Harrods), and Amsterdam (De Bijenkorf).

Inside of an El Palacio de Hierro store

In 1888 they bought land to construct their new department store. They hired the Mexican architect Ignacio de la Hidalga for the project and construction was to last until 1891.

Tron and Leautaud chose to build a five-story building. It was, notably the first building in Mexico City made of iron and steel. As the first such structure in Mexico, people who passed by often asked "What iron palace are they building?". In 1891, when construction finished, Tron and Leautaud decided to rename the business "El Palacio de Hierro", taking advantage of the publicity they earned during construction.

On April 15, 1914 a fire destroyed the building. Other buildings were then used. With the end of the Mexican Revolution, construction began on a new building designed by French architect Paul Dubois. The Art Nouveau building opened in 1920 with dual stained-glass ceilings by Jacques Grüber (1870-1936) of Nancy, France.

Nowadays, El Palacio de Hierro is part of Grupo Bal a diversified conglomerate in Mexico with interests in insurance, mining and retail.

It is a comprehensive department store with product lines ranging from clothing, to houseware, furniture, jewelry, select foods, toys, spa, travel services, and electronics. Especially in the clothing area, it is a high-end retailer, carrying top Mexican domestic brands, as well as hosting many in-store boutiques from exclusive lines such as Emilio Pucci, Tiffany's, D'Argenta, Tommy Hilfiger, Cartier, Esprit, Max Mara, BCBG Max Azria, Emporio Armani, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Tory Burch, Salvatore Ferragamo, Prada, Ermenegildo Zegna, Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Versace, Swarovski, Michael Kors, Burberry, Escada, Juicy Couture, Carolina Herrera, Mango, Bvlgari, Bottega Veneta, and Hermès.

Currently, there are full Palacio de Hierro department stores in:

Several cities have multiple store formats:

Store in Polanco Mexico City hosting an exhibition of Uriarte Talavera.


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