By  on February 22, 2006

NEW YORK — Bulgari is giving one of its crown jewels a polish.

The Rome-based firm is closing its flagship here at 730 Fifth Avenue on March 4 for a redesign and expansion.

The 14,000-square-foot, three-floor store will increase in size by 500 square feet. Its front will be all windows to help create a more inviting space than the current version, completed in 1989, with its high curving walls inset with rows of jewelry cases offering sparse display areas for merchandise. In addition to the firm's jewelry and watches, the redone boutique will also have ample space on the new mezzanine level to display the brand's burgeoning accessories category — including handbags, scarves, small leather goods and eyewear — that used to be tucked away on the store's second floor.

Women's jewelry and watches will be merchandised on the ground floor, while men's watches, jewelry and accessories will be on the second floor.

Bulgari will take a temporary retail space on March 6 at 3 East 57th Street, which has been a popular holding space for luxury boutiques like Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche and Coach during their respective renovations. The Italian company's redesigned Fifth Avenue store is expected to reopen in spring 2007.

"I am particularly proud of the renovation plan for the new Fifth Avenue store," Bulgari Group chief executive officer Francesco Trapani said in a statement. "It is an important step in our retail strategy aiming to renew and upgrade the Bulgari stores in the world and to make them an even more representative expression of the elegance and refinement that distinguishes the Bulgari style."

The new design reflects the firm's push to increase its accessories business. In May, the firm will open a Milan flagship, and that same month a 2,000-square-foot store at The Collection in Chevy Chase, Md., followed by the rollout in 2007 of a flagship in Tokyo, all with significant areas dedicated to accessories. In September, Bulgari plans to open a stand-alone accessories shop in Milan, followed by others in major European cities.

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