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Bulgari Shutters Three U.S. Stores, Plans Three Openings

Bulgari is shifting locations of several of its U.S. stores in an effort to shore up lagging growth.

Bulgari is shifting locations of several of its U.S. stores in an effort to shore up lagging growth.

This story first appeared in the August 28, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The Italian jeweler has closed stores in Palm Beach, Aspen and on New York’s Madison Avenue and plans to open stores in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Dallas this year.

Bulgari has 15 company-owned boutiques in the U.S. including stores in Atlanta, Honolulu and a 13,590-square-foot flagship on Fifth Avenue in New York.

Bulgari officials declined comment.

In March, the jeweler said it was cutting jobs, reducing the number of products and closing unprofitable stores after the company’s earnings fell 45.1 percent in 2008.

In July, Bulgari SpA reported a net loss of 40.5 million euros, or $53.8 million, in the first half ending June 30, citing poor sales in the U.S. and a slowdown in demand for fine watches and jewelry in the U.S.

All product categories suffered in the first half. Revenues of jewelry, which generated 44.5 percent of sales, showed a 23 percent drop. Accessories sales were hit hardest, however, posting a 40.9 percent decline.

Madison Avenue has seen its share of flux in recent months. Other firms that left prominent addresses on Madison Avenue include the jewelry retailer Fragments and Lambertson Truex, which was acquired out of bankruptcy by Tiffany & Co. in May.

Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of the retail leasing, marketing and sales division of Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate, said that a year ago leases on Madison Avenue from 60th to 72nd streets ranged from $1,100 to $1,700 a square foot. Today those same spaces are being brokered from $600 to $800 a square foot.

“We’re making the deals, the rents are down,” said Consolo.