By  on August 17, 2009

LOS ANGELES — Montblanc’s new store concept showcases the writing instrument maker’s widening product assortment, as it continues to evolve into a broad luxury goods brand.

The 2,700-square-foot store, unveiled earlier this month on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, was designed in-house by the Compagnie Financière Richemont-owned brand. It replaces a nearby 300-square-foot, decade-old unit on the same street that offered a limited selection. The additional space allows the brand to highlight categories such as watches, jewelry, leather accessories and eyewear.

“It is a totally new world, not only in how we show the product, but in what we show,” said Jan-Patrick Schmitz, president and chief executive officer of Montblanc North America, who added that 60 to 70 percent of the merchandise in the new store wasn’t available in the previous location. “In a store like this, we have expectations of [generating] increased visibility and a much different experience to create more traction for the brand.”

The store’s exterior is made of European slate, and the interior is done in light hues such as tans, grays and whites, in contrast to the stark black-and-white interior of Montblanc’s previous Rodeo Drive location. Schmitz pointed to subtle links between the product and the look of the store, including dark gray or blue design elements being paired with male-oriented items and light brown with female-oriented items.

The interior is segmented into three areas: the entry for watches and the most expensive jewelry pieces; the middle for more approachable jewelry, cuff links and money clips; the cash wrap backed by an image of a soaring Mont Blanc — the highest mountain in the Alps and Western Europe — and the back for what Schmitz called “lifestyle” products like pens, belts, sunglasses, and travel and leather items. Limited edition writing instruments are encased in displays along the walls and a private VIP room is at the rear of the store. The price range in the store is from $370 to $5 million.

“From a design point of view, it is closer to a jewelry store than the old location,” said Schmitz.

Although he wouldn’t discuss sales figures, Schmitz said he expects to “easily multiply turnover several times over” from the former Rodeo Drive store and “jewelry, leather and watches will increase proportionally.” Based on recent annual average sales-per-square-foot estimates for Rodeo Drive, the Montblanc store could notch around $2.2 million in annual sales.

The Rodeo Drive store reflects a retail strategy to move away from Montblanc’s previously small stores averaging 400 to 600 square feet toward larger locations from 1,400 to 3,000 square feet. The brand has revamped its Houston unit to reflect this strategy and is planning to remodel two U.S. shops next year in a similar manner, according to Schmitz. Montblanc has 34 stores in the U.S. and around 360 globally.

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