By  on July 30, 2007

MILAN — Sales of fine jewelry and a robust performance in the U.S. and the Far East helped Bulgari post an 8.9 percent growth in first-half sales. The Italian jeweler reported revenues of 487.8 million euros, or $634.1 million at average exchange rates, compared with the same period last year.

At constant exchange rates, sales would have grown 14.8 percent.

In the second quarter, sales increased 7.7 percent to 262.6 million euros, or $341.3 million, compared with the same period last year.

“The satisfying sales results of this first half confirm once again the strength of the Bulgari brand and the efficacy of the adopted strategies across all markets,” said Francesco Trapani, chief executive officer of the Rome-based company, in a statement.

Trapani also underscored the performance of the company’s retail network, which, as of June 30, totaled 232 stores, of which 136 were directly owned. “The distribution strategy focused on new important openings and on the enlargement and revamping of existing stores in prestigious locations worldwide has, in fact, already contributed to the outstanding performances registered in Europe and in the U.S.,” said Trapani.

In March, the company reopened its New York flagship and, in the second half, will open two stores in Tokyo, which the company hopes will stimulate sales in the struggling Japanese market.

In late October, Bulgari will open a flagship inside a new shopping center in the Omotesando district, and in December, a 10-story tower in Ginza will bow opposite the Chanel and Cartier flagships. In the first half, sales in Japan dropped 18.4 percent compared with the same period last year. “In accordance to the guidance already given to the market, I am therefore confident of an improvement in Japan in the fourth quarter,” said Trapani.

The company also said in the statement that its directly owned stores showed “very aggressive” sales in the first half.

Jewelry, Bulgari’s core business, grew 14.9 percent in the first six months, accounting for 42.3 percent of sales. The company said the new Assioma D timepiece, launched at the Baselworld Watch & Jewelry Show earlier this year, has been successful, helping Bulgari posta 3.3 percent increase in sales in the watch category. In the first half, watches accounted for 27.2 percent of sales.

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