Jean-Christophe Babin, Chief Executive Officer of the LVMH-owned jeweller Bulgari, is betting on the US market, innovation and a reinvestment of one of its most popular designs to raise its bottom line: “when I look at brand size versus market size, I see that the U.S. is one of those markets where our potential growth is the highest.” The 131-year old brand is currently represented in 18 US cities. Babin has said that the brand will invest its efforts in “optimising” pre-existing units rather than additional stores. In the past two years, Bulgari has revamped a handful of its US units and will soon start modernising its Fifth Avenue flagship. “The challenge is, ‘How do we get to our potential while making the right profits?’ So it’s finding a balance between the right investments, novelties and profits,” said Babin.
Growth projections for the U.S. market would not be shared as they hope to grow on a double-digit scale globally. To do so, Babin believes they should grow Bulgari’s watch business — the brand’s second-largest product category that currently represents about 20% of worldwide sales: “Based on results we know we are outperforming the segment, so the goal is to keep outperforming and gain market share. We are no longer in the dream years when the watch industry was growing 15 percent a year. It means we have to be even more creative and audacious with the product and how we communicate it.”
Bulgari are trying to lead on the innovation front, with creative watch designs. At this year’s Baselworld fair, they introduced the concept for its Diagono Magensium model – a watch that doubles as a digital key, which unlocks an encrypted mobile password vault. A final prototype will be unveiled at next year’s fair, and is scheduled to hit the market soon thereafter. They will also expand their Bulgari Bulgari collection, which, when it was first designed in 1975, was an innovation in marketing, the brand’s first fashion watch which utilises the logo as a design element for cachet.