By  on August 13, 2007

Bulgari SpA has more than tripled its South Coast Plaza retail footprint with a new dual-concept store opening today in one of the Costa Mesa, Calif., mall's power alleys.Situated in a corridor anchored by Nordstrom and punctuated by shops belonging to Chanel, Mikimoto, Tiffany & Co., Hermès, MaxMara and Fendi, the 2,600-square-foot location on the first level dwarfs Bulgari's former 700-square-foot spot a floor above. It also marks the brand's second dual-concept store containing separate entrances for jewelry and timepieces and accessories such as handbags, small leather goods, ties, fragrances and sunglasses."This is an important milestone for Bulgari in the United States because Southern California fits within our strategy, which has been to reinforce our presence in the country by finding the market that best fits our constant commitment [to] high quality, style and design," Francesco Trapani, chief executive officer of Bulgari, said in a statement.The relocation in South Coast Plaza is intended to multiply the store's walk-in traffic by perhaps as much as five times. The Plaza's shops regularly rank among jewelry and fashion brands' top one or two performing units. The mall's co-founder, Henry Segerstrom, said in an interview earlier this year that annual sales per square foot exceed $1,000, closely behind the nation's leading Forum Shops at Caesars Palace's estimated annual sales per square foot of $1,300.Designed by the company's in-house team, the Bulgari store's coloring is considerably lighter than its predecessor's. The exterior is beige marble; light maple wood covers the floors and counter displays in the jewelry and timepiece side, and tans, creams, whites and bursts of burnt orange characterize the palette for the side with the broader accessories assortment. The two sides are connected at the rear of the store.The expansion in accessories inventory will expose locals to the full extent of Bulgari's offerings outside of jewelry and watches. In its prior incarnation, the Bulgari store carried only six handbag styles, compared with around 100 in the new store.Handbags run from $700 for a lightweight sporty canvas purse to $6,450 for a camel ostrich tote, while sunglasses are priced from $350 to $700. Jewelry and watches start at $700 and $1,500, respectively, but price tags can rise into the many millions of dollars. The most expensive items are showcased in five upright displays and 11 wall insets in the store's jewelry and watch side, as well as in the store's exterior windows.Bulgari's first twin store was unveiled last March in Chevy Chase, Md., and the concept is scheduled to spread to the Town Center mall in Boca Raton, Fla., this fall. After reopening its flagship on New York's Fifth Avenue in March, Bulgari has 14 stores in the U.S. and 232 worldwide, 136 of which are corporately owned.Bulgari's sales in the U.S. climbed 18.8 percent in the first half of this year versus the same period a year earlier and accounted for 17 percent of global revenues. In total, the Italian jeweler posted an 8.9 percent sales increase to $634.1 million, based on average exchange rates, in the first half of this year from the same period the previous year.

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