Jean-Christophe BABIN.  Bulgari Accessory SS19. Milan. Italy. 09/2018 © david atlan

MILANBulgari expects to end the year on a strong performance, with the planned launch of its first new jewelry pillar since 2014, supported by a global advertising campaign featuring two new faces, in time for the holiday season.

The brand is set to unveil the collection at its luxury resort in Dubai in October alongside the new ambassadors, one of whom is Latin, Bulgari chief executive officer Jean-Christophe Babin told WWD at the brand’s spring accessories presentation in Milan.

“It confirms our very strong focus on jewelry, and confirms also our mission to become the leading jeweler,” he said. “It will get on the market at a time when probably the brand has already, without it, the strongest momentum in its history, so it will really be a clear growth booster which will add one engine to a rocket which, as it is today, is flying very fast already.”

Parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton said its watches and jewelry business posted a rise of 16 percent in organic revenues to 1.98 billion euros in the first half, with profit from recurring operations up 46 percent.

Though it does not break down performance by brand, the group touted Bulgari’s “excellent” sales, underpinned by a strong performance in China and the U.S. LVMH said the Roman jeweler continued to gain market share and its pillar collections — Serpenti, B-Zero1, Diva and Octo — made good progress.

“We can expect another half consistent with the first half,” Babin said of the second semester, citing positive factors such as the launch of the jewelry collection and the brand’s efforts to rationalize its wholesale distribution.

Though he did not reveal the name of the new pillar, which follows the launch of Diva four years ago, the executive said it was designed to have global appeal, with a core price range of $5,000 to $20,000, placing it in the same bracket as the Serpenti collection.

“What we’ve tried to do is to add a design [that is] complementary in terms of clientele profile, and I mean by that not only the purchasing power, but more importantly the lifestyle,” he explained. “It will make also a strong statement on an important dimension of Bulgari, which is diamonds.”

Though Bulgari markets itself as the “master of colored gemstones,” Babin has expanded its diamond offering since joining the brand in 2013.

“We have a true and strong accessible assortment, which has been also very much an engine of our growth, and there are price points where we believe we can be even more attractive, as long as we propose all through those price points a diversity of styles,” he said.

Similarly, Bulgari is seeking to expand its handbag assortment with options appropriate for everyday use.

Its B.GLAM collection, unveiled at the Bulgari hotel in Milan on Friday, featured a range of black handbags with chain embellishments, as well as the Serpenti Diamond Blast, a quilted leather style with a snake head clasp and a chunky gold-plated chain.

Bulgari’s Serpenti Diamond Blast handbag.  Courtesy

“That is a color for Bulgari which is pretty new,” said Babin, noting it has traditionally used vibrant hues that reflect its jewelry-maker roots. “We believe that the ‘daily chic’ is for sure a market segment which should grow, as long as brands, in terms of creativity and functionality, are providing the right bags.”

Bulgari still caters to the most extravagant tastes, with items such as a one-of-a-kind bag dusted in 24-karat gold, with a diamond-studded clasp, that carries a price tag of 200,000 euros.

The brand has been reaching out to Millennials through its accessories ambassador Bella Hadid, who attended a party in Milan to celebrate the new collection.

In October, its jewelry creative director Lucia Silvestri will host an event open to the public at the brand’s New Curiosity Shop concept store in Rome, as part of LVMH’s Journées Particulières open doors event.

“Millennials, perhaps more than any other generation before, are very much interested in authenticity,” noted Babin. “They love to understand what’s behind the stage, behind the window of a boutique, what’s behind advertising, and really what we call at Bulgari the ‘mani intellgenti,’ the intelligent hands.”

The brand operates six hotels worldwide, with further openings set for Paris, Moscow and Tokyo. Babin believes it is this strong lifestyle component that will help it eventually pull ahead of industry leaders Tiffany & Co. and Cartier.

“We believe that the hotels will add a lot to the brand and will allow Bulgari to be probably the only hard luxury brand with a true experiential dimension,” he said.

“If we are perceived by this generation getting on the job market as really the ultimate in terms of emotion, in terms of creativity and in terms of craftsmanship, then I do really believe that this leadership is not wishful thinking,” he concluded.

A one-of-a-kind gold handbag at Bulgari’s accessories presentation in Milan.  Courtesy

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