By  on July 30, 2007

PARIS — Guess wants to sparkle in Europe.

The American fashion brand is blitzing the Continent with a retail rollout of its jewelry line that launched this spring with licensing partner Sequel AG, the Swiss firm that produces Guess timepieces, as well.

Guess also inaugurated its first in-shop boutiques this month at the Printemps and Galeries Lafayette department stores here. By the end of the year, Sequel hopes Guess jewelry will be sold in 1,000 doors across France, as well as "thousands" more doors across Europe, mostly in Spain, Italy, the U.K., Switzerland and Germany, said Eric Russack, Sequel's vice president of jewelry.

"We're going very aggressively in Europe," said Russack, who noted that Guess would be present in 18 Printemps and 63 Galeries Lafayette units in France by yearend.

In the U.K., Russack said Guess' main retail partners would be House of Fraser and Debenhams. In Spain and Italy, he said Guess jewelry would be distributed more in independent jewelry retailers because of the way in which the market is structured. The line also will be stocked in Guess' signature stores, which include nine units in France and a total of 116 in Europe. The company also runs 15 factory outlet stores in Europe.

Russack declined to give sales projections for Guess jewelry, which is concurrently launching in Asia and the Middle East. Sources estimated that the business, which excludes the Americas, could grow into an annual $100 million venture.

"The momentum for the brand around the world is incredible," Russack said. "The strategy for the jewelry is a combined effort of department store and distribution in independent retailers."

Guess jewelry is arriving in Europe as branded jewelry in general continues to build momentum, with brands such as Dolce & Gabbana resonating with a young clientele. It also comes as Guess ramps up its accessories profile in Europe. The brand opened its first shoe store here this year as it moves to boost that business in Europe.

Prices for Guess jewelry range from 30 euros, or about $41 at current exchange, for a pair of earrings to 150 euros, or $206, for an elaborate necklace. A Guess Collection range, which uses sterling silver and semiprecious stones and is positioned to be more upscale, is priced from 75 euros, or $103, for earrings to about 500 euros, or $687, for a complicated necklace.Sequel has experienced great success with its license for Guess watches, which are stocked in 20,000 retail outlets around the world.

"Growth has been double digit for the watches,'' Russack said. "We believe that, in time, the jewelry business can be as big as the watches."

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