LONDON — The Danish jewelry and homeware brand Georg Jensen is beefing up its high-end product categories, putting a focus on hand craftsmanship, and expanding its retail base as it continues to grow the business.
In the year ended Dec. 31, revenues grew 8 percent to 914 million Danish kroner, or $163.6 million, while profits fell 29 percent to 6 million Danish kroner, or $1.1 million, due to expenses related to retail expansion and executive hiring. Figures are converted at average exchange rates for the 12-month period.
Last year, the brand opened 25 stores and doubled the size of its shop-in-shop at Harrods to 356 square feet. Retail accounts for 57 percent of the business while wholesale, e-commerce and travel retail make up the rest.
“After four years of repositioning the business, we’ve made a platform for future financial growth. We’re a much more interesting proposal today,” said Ulrik Garde Due, the chief executive officer who spearheaded the company’s return to profit in 2010 for the first time in a decade.
Georg Jensen is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Royal Scandinavia Group, whose majority shareholder is the private equity fund Axcel. The fund also owns Danish homeware brand Royal Copenhagen.
Garde Due declined to comment on whether the owners were grooming Georg Jensen for a sale or an initial public offering, but he acknowledged there has been interest from potential investors. “This year we are on track to continue our solid performance. We’ve worked a lot on our product categories, and the story now is all about growth,” he said.
Scandinavia and Asia-Pacific each generate 42 percent of sales, with Continental Europe kicking in 10 percent and North America 6 percent. Jewelry is the largest product category, accounting for 50 percent of sales, while homeware generates 26 percent and watches 10 percent. Silverware and seasonal items account for the balance.
Among Jensen’s launches over the past year is the Ambassador Collection: Handmade sterling silver designs drawn from the brand’s archives, with styles ranging from Art Nouveau to midcentury Scandinavian and prices up to $250,000 for a covered fish tray.
Members of the Jensen staff — including one of the company’s 46 silversmiths — travel the world with this collection, hosting private sales and writing bespoke orders. Clients can choose from 75 handmade hammered silver designs ranging from Champagne bowls, goblets and candelabra designed in the Twenties, to Fifties pitchers and trays by the late designer Henning Koppel. Garde Due said the Jensen archive has about 4,500 sketches, half of which have never been put into production, so the collection has room to grow.
Over the past year, the company has also added pavé diamonds to its Fusion jewelry collection — propelling Georg Jensen into the high-end jewelry category — and has unveiled a series of cuff bracelets in yellow, white and rose gold, with prices up to $135,000.
“We have been pushing up the price pyramid, but we also need to be seen as a democratic brand, and the bottom part of the pyramid brings in a whole new clientele,” said Garde Due.
Later this month at Milan’s Salone del Mobile, Georg Jensen will unveil Ilse, a collection of homewares by the London-based brand, interior and product designer Ilse Crawford. In addition to stainless steel, Crawford has used brass, glass and copper — all new materials for Georg Jensen — for the eight designs in the collection.
Ilse will form part of the brand’s Home collection, which it plans to push into more international markets. The Home collection sells chiefly in Scandinavia, Australia and the U.K.