By  on September 16, 2008

John Hardy is getting serious about expansion in Europe.

The Bali, Indonesia-based jewelry company opened its first corner here at the upscale Le Bon Marché department store last week and is scouting for retail partners in the U.K., Switzerland, Russia and Spain.

With 80 percent of sales generated in the U.S., where the collection is carried by the likes of Neiman Marcus, the company sees many opportunities for growth around the world, particularly on the Continent.

Chief executive officer Damien Dernoncourt said John Hardy remains largely underdeveloped in Europe and the firm hopes to capitalize on that.

"It's a good situation for us," he said. "There's a big gap [in Europe] between less expensive costume jewelry and fine jewelry. In the next six to seven years, we'd like to have 50 percent of our sales come from outside of the U.S."

Dernoncourt, who was traveling with John Hardy creative director Guy Bedarida to oversee the space at Le Bon Marché, said he remained committed to finding the best retail partners available.

He said he was en route to Moscow for talks with Mercury Group there on how to develop in that fast-growing market.

Dernoncourt and Bedarida last year partnered with private equity group 3i to purchase John Hardy from its namesake founder. The two men initiated a plan for international growth in markets such as China, Japan and the Middle East. Dernoncourt said retail sales last year reached $180 million.

"We are interested in growing the company step by step," he said. "We are here for the long term."
While the company is best known for its gold and silver styles inspired by Balinese culture, Bedarida has introduced more one-of-a-kind pieces. It's a direction Bedarida continues to develop and he has started to show those creations twice a year during Paris couture week.

Bedarida said Le Bon Marché had selected many of these more intricate designs.

"European taste is not the same as American taste," he said. "Our company is based on artisans and design. That combination can work anywhere."

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