By  on June 6, 1994

NEW YORK -- Asprey's Naim Attalah is hardly content with having one field of expertise.

He is a man who steers a luxury goods company with annual sales of $375 million and, at the same time, runs his own London publishing company, Quartet Books. He even manages to write a book of his own every year, generally one that deals with sociological issues. And he sometimes dabbles in other business projects that interest him, including fragrance manufacturing and film and theater production.

"Having many different interests is what gives me energy," explained Attalah, who was here last week visiting the company's U.S. flagship store at 725 Fifth Ave. "I don't believe in limiting myself to just one pursuit."

As group chief executive of London-based luxury goods conglomerate Asprey PLC, Attalah has been guiding the 210-year-old company with a similar philosophy. Via a series of acquisitions, he has elevated Asprey from the two-store, $12 million firm it was less than five years ago to a mini-empire of European fine jewelry retailers and design houses.

Asprey's U.K. divisions range from Garrard & Co. Ltd., a store on Regent Street in London that is popularly known as "the Crown Jewelers of England," to Mappin & Webb, a 13-store fine jewelry chain, Watches of Switzerland, a 25-store timepiece retailer, and Hamilton & Inches, an Edinburgh fine jewelry store. In Switzerland, Asprey owns Les Ambassadeurs, a five-store operation specializing in watches.

Rounding out the list of assets is Rene Boivin, the Paris fine jewelry design house.

What's significant about the lineup, Attalah pointed out, is that each division addresses a slightly different consumer need. Garrard, for instance, is for the customer who's looking for the absolutely one-of-a-kind piece, such as a very special wedding ring. Mappin & Webb, on the other hand, is the traditional shop for gift or self purchases. For the person who wants the highly unusual piece -- a jeweled octopus pin with moving parts, for example, there is Rene Boivin's line.

"I'm obsessive about broadening our customer base," Attalah explained. There will always be the very wealthy clients for whom money is no object, he noted, but added, "I also want to attract a wide range of customers who will shop and spend at our stores, and cultivate people who represent our customers of the future."

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