By  on March 3, 2008

Some might be concerned about the fate of luxury goods in today's uncertain economy, but David Yurman feels the time is right to get aggressive about expanding overseas.

The 28-year-old fine jewelry and watch firm is scooping up key sites in Asia, as well as in New York, to expand its retail network. Yurman opened its first international store in the IFC mall in Hong Kong on Saturday and has created an Asian subsidiary with headquarters nearby.

The New York-based company has signed a lease in Macau and is planning to open a store in Tokyo. This year, the brand also will move into Europe and Russia, and in 2009 it will delve into the Middle East, likely through wholesale distribution.

Yurman also has locked in a space for its Manhattan flagship at 712 Madison Avenue. The 6,000-square-foot, five-story landmark building is now occupied by Lalique. For the past decade, Yurman has had a store at 729 Madison Avenue and its fate is undetermined.

David Yurman has a network of 15 stores across the U.S. in cities such as Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Dallas and Costa Mesa, Calif., and also has a large wholesale business with such specialty stores as Neiman Marcus. Industry sources estimate sales of all Yurman products at retail to be about $720 million a year. Revenues have been growing at a rate of 20 percent annually.

Yurman chief executive officer Paul Blum told WWD that the company's Asian business can be significant, but not as big as the U.S.

"We're looking at Asia in a long-term way," the ceo said. "We'll feel out the business and will get out there as the brand is more well known. We're not looking at it as a huge business early on. [Founders] David and Sybil Yurman are looking to the long term, to build this brand as a generational brand."

The 1,000-square-foot Hong Kong unit uses the same store design as the one in the U.S., with dark brown zebra wood, marble interiors and exteriors and an elegant, Japanese-inspired aesthetic.

Starting this month, the firm will create a marketing and advertising blitz in Asia to gain brand awareness. Its Peter Lindbergh-photographed ad campaign, similar to the one running in the U.S., features Kate Moss, Daria Werbowy and Natalia Vodianova, and will be plastered on billboards and in magazines throughout the region. The firm also is teaming up with charities and organizing sponsorships.

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