TOKYO — Bulgari plans to open two flagships here this year. A unit in Omotesando will make its debut in November and another, which will be the brand's largest freestanding store in the world, will open in Ginza in December.

"It should trigger more growth for us to have the retail network in the important areas like Ginza and Omotesando," said Francesco Trapani, chief executive officer of Bulgari Group.

The two-story Omotesando store will occupy 5,600 square feet and will be located inside a new shopping center opening on the site of Esquisse Omotesando. Bulgari's new "twin shop" concept will be realized with two separate entrances, and two sections of accessories on the first floor — one for jewelry and watches and another devoted to leather goods. The second floor will have a bridal section and a Bulgari Café. The shop will be the first Bulgari unit with a cafe, which will boast an open-air terrace, and will sell sweets like chocolates.

"Last year, when we sent our special clients gifts of chocolate, it was very well received. It is an effective communication tool with our customers. We always want to stay creative," said Trapani.

Japan represents 25.4 percent of Bulgari Group sales, which last year totaled 1.01 billion euros, or $1.27 billion at average exchange.

"The Japanese market's economic condition is on the healthier track," said Trapani. "However, the age of the society is advancing, and the luxury market has a bearish tone. The high business growth rate will not continue forever. Yet, when you consider its scale, Japan is the largest and most important market for us.

"Though it might seem to be stalling a little, we see this year as a preparation period for yet more growth," the ceo added. "Not only are we opening new boutiques and introducing new lines, we are also renovating, training and investing in marketing. The year 2008 should be the start of another aggressive growth period."

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