By  on October 16, 2008

MILAN — Despite the rocky economy, Gucci is staying the course, casting a wider net and approaching emerging markets with significant potential.

In line with its global retail push, the luxury goods house has opened its first store in Budapest, Hungary. Mark Lee, president and CEO of Gucci, pointed to Hungary as “one of the most dynamic Eastern European markets for the luxury industry.”

Gucci has chosen a Neo-Renaissance, 19th century building on prestigious Andrássy Avenue to house the boutique. Monumental arches and a historical 1882 fountain blend with Gucci’s more contemporary store design. Gold and silver shades are framed by natural light and glowing wall panels, and Gucci’s staple light rosewood and mohair velvet upholstering contrasts with darker travertine elements.

The boutique covers almost 3,800 square feet on one level and is directly owned and operated by Gucci. It carries the brand’s men’s and women’s collections of ready-to-wear, handbags, shoes, watches, sunglasses, jewelry, small leather goods and gifts.

According to Lee, one of Gucci’s “most valuable assets is the ability to balance its leadership and exclusivity between historical and new markets, while staying relevant to different customers all over the world.” Retail accounts for around 70 percent of Gucci’s business.

Earlier this year, Gucci opened in cities as diverse as Prague, Macau, Cape Town and Auckland, New Zealand. At the same time, the company also focused on such an established market as the U.S., with the opening in February of its new three-level, 46,000-square-foot Fifth Avenue store in New York.

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