PARIS--Tiffany & Co. has returned to Paris after a hiatus of about a century. The New York-based fine jeweler has entered into a distribution agreement with R.M.D., a company here owned by veteran jewelry executive Remy Malabard, to wholesale the line to a select number of jewelers in Paris this year, and the rest of France next year.
There are no plans, however, for opening a wholly owned, freestanding store here, according to William Chaney, chairman of Tiffany. Tiffany did have a store here back in the late 1800s. "At the present time, our plans are to develop the business in France through our trade distribution," said Chaney.
The expansion into France is part of Tiffany's long-term approach to the European market, which began when the company opened its European flagship unit on Bond Street in London in September 1986.
Since then, it has launched freestanding stores in Frankfurt, Munich, and Zurich. It has also developed in-store corners in Faraoni jewelry shops in Florence and Milan, as part of a wholly owned partnership with the Italian jeweler. The owner of Faraoni, Cesare Settepassi, is vice president of Tiffany & Co. Europe. Tiffany has also opened a limited number of wholesale accounts in several other Western European countries. However, as Malabard pointed out, launching the firm's line can be a challenging proposition since recognition of the jeweler's name is relatively weak across the continent.
Still, he added, the timing appears to be right for rolling out the line in France.
"France is coming out of a recession, and now people are looking for value for their money," he noted, asserting that a good part of Tiffany's merchandise range fits this niche.

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