LONDON — A quiet revolution is taking place at Boodles, the luxury British jeweler, including plans to set up shop in the U.S. for the first time in the company’s 207-year history.
Founded in 1798 and run for six generations by the Wainwright family, Boodles — formerly known as Boodle & Dunthorne — is famous for its diamonds and candy-colored semiprecious stones, its quirky approach to marketing and its popularity among the sports and celebrity set.
David and Victoria Beckham bought their engagement rings at Boodles, and Madonna, Olympic track gold medalist Kelly Holmes, singer Charlotte Church and actress Martine McCutcheon have all worn Boodles jewelry to red-carpet events.
But while most might expect such a venerable firm to be stuffy and snobbish, the new mood at Boodles is all about fun, lightness and youth, which is why the company recently shortened its name.
“Our customers and friends always referred to us affectionately as ‘Boodles,’ so it was a natural decision,” said James Amos, marketing director and part of the sixth generation of Wainwrights to run the company. “Plus, Boodle & Dunthorne sounded just a little old-fashioned. We think Boodles is more contemporary.”
Amos, 27, a former stockbroker for HSBC in the City of London financial district, is mapping out ways to build on the Boodles name internationally. Boodles’ profits in the 2003-04 fiscal year were 1.5 million pounds, or $2.9 million at current exchange, and its sales were 30 million pounds, or $57.6 million. Amos said he expects both to be up by 10 to 15 percent in the current fiscal year.
One of his first plans is to set up a department store concession in the U.S. as early as this summer.
“We have a good American following already in our London stores and we’ve been very successful selling privately to Americans in the past. We think a concession could work quite well,” said Amos, adding the next step would be a shop on Madison Avenue.
In London, Boodles has stores on Sloane Street, Regent Street and The Royal Exchange and an in-store shop at Harrods. It also has units in other U.K. cities, including Liverpool, Manchester and Chester.
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