Aurélie Bidermann is amping up her fast-growing jewelry brand.
Flush with a capital injection this year from an unnamed private investment fund, Bidermann is plotting a wave of store openings worldwide and an expanded collection. The designer, who retains a majority stake in her brand, hired Stéphane Raymond, previously chief financial officer at Beckham Ventures, parent of the Victoria Beckham brand, as cochief executive officer to develop the business. He started on July 1.
“We want to accelerate our growth while retaining a high degree of control,” Bidermann told WWD. “Five years from now, we want to have stores in major cities, but in specific locations that remain exclusive. We want to become more universal and not remain too elitist, while taking great care with the brand so that it remains very luxurious. In fact, the development is organic — accelerated but organic.”
Bidermann hopes appointing Raymond will free her to focus more on the creative direction of the brand, which has been on a rapid growth path since officially launching fine jewelry in December 2013 alongside its existing costume jewelry.
The company declined to disclose volume, but Bidermann said since the introduction, revenue has increased by 45 percent, and fine jewelry now accounts for 30 percent of sales. She expects this proportion to rise to 45 percent by the end of 2015 and 60 percent by 2017, noting, “We thought we would have very good results, but we didn’t think it would be this fast.”
Retail expansion will focus mainly on Asia and the Middle East. Bidermann plans to open corners within fine jewelry retailers in Beirut and Dubai in November, followed by Hong Kong, Singapore and Seoul in early 2016. She’s also scouting locations in England, Germany and the U.S. Her store in New York’s SoHo, opened in August 2014, ended the year 20 percent ahead of its goal. “It’s an extremely promising market,” she remarked.
Bidermann is also looking to expand at home in Paris, where she has a store on Rue des Saints-Pères on the Left Bank, plus corners at department stores Printemps and Le Bon Marché. She’ll open a temporary corner in September at Franck & Fils, the LVMH-owned department store that is slated to close in July 2016, and is due to add a second space at Le Bon Marché next December or January dedicated to fine jewelry. She also wants to open a store on the Right Bank with more space for fine jewelry.
Meanwhile, e-commerce is developing quickly for the brand. Launched in 2012, the Web site is expected to account for 10 percent of revenue by the end of this year. She said what sells well online is either at the entry price point of 1,500 euros ($1,650 at current exchange), or the upper end, around 20,000 euros ($22,145).
“The U.S. accounts for a big portion of our e-commerce, so we’ll launch a dedicated U.S. platform in 2016,” Bidermann said.
To accompany growth at retail and meet wholesale demand, Bidermann is padding her products that fall in the range of 1,800 to 2,500 euros ($1,990 to $2,765). In a departure for the brand, around half the pieces will be set with diamonds.
“We knew there was a gap on that side and there was real demand from our customers,” she said. “It’s important for us that these entry-price pieces feature colored stones, but also diamonds.”
Reflecting its rapid growth, the brand now employs 38 people, compared with four in 2011. But Bidermann is taking it in stride. “I’m not afraid,” she said. “On the contrary…I think we’re ready.”