MILAN — Five years after unveiling a state-of-the-art jewelry manufacturing plant that was billed as the largest in Europe, Bulgari is already doubling the production capacity of the site, which is based in Valenza, Italy.
With a new surface area of nearly 189,000 square feet, the extension works will begin this month and the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2025. About 650 new employees are set to be hired by 2028.
“I never thought we would have to expand the plant so soon; the idea was that it would be adequate to carry on for 10 or 12 years. But demand has surged more than expected and we absolutely have to increase our in-house capabilities,” said chief executive officer Jean-Christophe Babin.
At the same time, Babin underscored Bulgari’s need to train new goldsmiths and integrate the artisanal talents.
The executive did not disclose the amount of the investment, but said it was “the highest investment” for the company and “almost twice as much” as the original funds channeled into the plant, called Manifattura.
“All Bulgari jewels are crafted exclusively in Italy because we believe in authentic and traditional craftsmanship and in the added value of operating where there is true know-how,” said Babin, speaking of the goldsmith tradition in Valenza, which dates back to the Renaissance. Valenza is located between Milan, Turin and Genoa.
“In a complex moment on a global level; we want to send a positive message for the future continuing to invest in our country. This will create many new direct jobs in the next five years, as well as many hundreds indirect with our suppliers,” he continued.
Further reflecting the company’s commitment to the territory and craftsmanship, the Rome-based company will open the Scuola Bulgari, bridging the new buildings with the existing one, which will also be renovated, Babin said.
“We make beauty and sell beauty and being surrounded by beauty reflects what we do, in an aesthetic and architectural balance,” he mused.
This education center is the first Bulgari training school for external students and was developed in collaboration with a design school.
The training course will last about a year and the best students will have the opportunity to be employed by Bulgari.
The Bulgari Academy, which helps avoid depleting the web of local artisans in the surrounding area, will instead continue to train new recruits who will have the opportunity to learn Bulgari’s specific crafting techniques directly from the house’s master craftsmen.
With four courses a year, each lasting four months with full-time attendance of 40 hours a week, the Bulgari Academy has now trained hundreds of jewelers.
The Valenza plant has been producing Bulgari staples such as the B.Zero1, Serpenti, Diva and Parentesi. Designs retail at up to 50,000 euros.
The extension will be built using innovative technologies and materials with low environmental impact, with the aim to achieve the LEED certification, which the existing construction earned in 2017.
Developed by the Italian architectural firm Politecnica, the project has been entirely designed with a sustainable approach and following the principles of energy efficiency, not only to drastically reduce the site’s environmental footprint but also to preserve the neighboring territory and its biodiversity.
The enlargement will consist of two new buildings and an external suspended bridge that will link all three structures to one another. The central part, totaling 49,518 square feet, in addition to presenting a reception area will house the Scuola Bulgari and a restaurant, while the largest building, covering 138,780 square feet, will be dedicated to production.
Babin explained that Bulgari is implementing concrete actions such as reducing the impact on the surrounding environment, incentivizing sustainable mobility, decreasing water consumption, optimizing energy performances also through renewable or alternative energy sources, using materials from nearby areas and with a high recycling value in the components.
Technology has evolved since the opening of the first Manifattura and the the expansion project will include new solutions. He cited an energy hub that will contain technologically advanced systems for the generation of hot and cold fluids with minimum energy consumption, a geothermal field installed under the parking lots for the production of about 1 megawatt of thermal energy and a new photovoltaic system, among others.
The Manifattura Bulgari began its production in January 2017 with 380 employees, with the number increasing to 750 currently.
The major recruitment program, which intends to employ about 650 new staff members between 2024 and 2028, includes a strategic plan for employer branding and talent scouting on a national and international scale, with a series of initiatives involving the most important jewelry schools in Italy and Europe.
Furthermore, Bulgari signed the Urban Planning Agreement with the municipalities of Valenza and nearby Pecetto, outlining the house’s commitment to finance two important interventions for environmental redevelopment and requalification in these territories.
The expansion project also includes further interventions aimed at drastically reducing its environmental impact and preserving the surrounding territory — in particular the biodiversity of the Pecetto hills, right behind the production site.