LONDON — David Chu has lifted the veil on the new Georg Jensen, and behind it is a trove of precious gemstones, collectors’ watches and a younger attitude.
Under owners Investcorp, the Danish brand will return to Baselworld after a five-year hiatus with an expanded fine-jewelry and watch offer, and has a stack of strategies targeted at a younger audience.
Among them are store openings in London, Munich and Beijing, and collaborations with product designer Marc Newson and jeweler Jordan Askill.
In Basel this week, the brand plans to unveil a revitalized and higher-end watch and jewelry collection, according to Chu, chief executive officer and creative officer.
In an exclusive interview, Chu said the brand’s watch offer would feature timepieces with more complicated movements, aimed at collectors. For the first time, the signature Koppel collection will feature models with semicomplications developed by Dubois Dépraz, a master movement manufacturer in Switzerland’s Vallée de Joux.
Jewelry will boast more gold and diamonds, as well as colored gemstones such as rubies and emeralds, done in partnership with Gemfields, a producer of ethically sourced rare colored gemstones. Chu said the company is moving its offer ever higher.
“That’s the reason we decided Basel would be the right venue — to show the world that we’re back with a much more prestigious positioning,” he said, adding that the Vivianna bangle watch, which Georg Jensen launched in the Sixties, has been redone in diamond pavé, while a new collection of Dune bangle bracelets has been done in gold and diamonds.
“To be a jewelry company today, you’ve got to constantly evolve your designs. It’s not about making a collection that lasts four or five years. You’ve always got to introduce a new offering, new design ideas, new collaborations. We are going to have new collections every six months,” he said.
Newson will create a silverware collection aimed at a “younger luxury aficionado,” while Askill has been commissioned to produce an original jewelry line, echoing the aesthetic of Vivianna Torun, one of the brand’s most prolific collaborators in the Seventies.
Both collections will debut in the fall, as will leather goods and writing instruments.
On the retail front, the focus is on building up the brand in Europe and mainland China. The London Bond Street flagship will relocate to nearby Mount Street in August and the brand also plans to open boutiques at London’s Royal Exchange and Westfield London in the spring.
At Selfridges, the Jensen concession has moved to the Wonder Room, while a new silverware concession will launch this summer at Harrods, doubling the company’s U.K. retail footprint to more than 3,000 square feet.
The brand will also open a flagship in Munich in May that will stock all the product categories — silver, jewelry, watches, home and men’s. The interiors will echo the recently launched flagship in Oslo and the refurbished flagship in Copenhagen.
Georg Jensen will enter the Chinese market with the unveiling of the House of Jensen, a restored residence located in an historic hutong, or narrow lane, in Beijing.
The 3,600-square-foot space will be adjacent to one of China’s most established contemporary art galleries, Beijing Center for the Arts, and will house a boutique and a restaurant serving Danish food, offering the complete Georg Jensen lifestyle.
All of the boutiques feature the updated store concept: Metallic Art Deco elements and sculptural lighting fixtures mixed with the clean lines of Scandinavian minimalism, offset by hand-crafted materials such as sandstone and slatted wood.
Investcorp purchased Georg Jensen at the end of 2012 from Denmark’s Axcel Capital Partners for $140 million. At the time, Investcorp said its aim was to transform the Danish brand into the next Tiffany & Co., and possibly seek a public listing for the company in Asia in five to seven years.
Asked about creating a Europe-based Tiffany, Chu said the American brand was “a great benchmark to aspire to,” and added there are only a few firms — Tiffany and Cartier being among them — doing branded jewelry in what remains a fragmented market.
Although Chu declined to give sales projections for the company, he said revenue growth is in the double digits and he’s looking to double revenues over the medium term.