LONDON — British jeweler Mappin & Webb celebrated the reopening of its London flagship on Regent street on Tuesday night following an extensive renovation.
Brian Duffy, the brand’s chief executive officer, explained that the revamp of the Regent Street space is part of a wider relaunch of the Mappin & Webb brand.
“We had to do it all over again — choose an ambassador, elevate the product and rebuild the store. This has been a work in progress for the past 18 months,” Duffy told WWD.
The brand has stores at a number of locations across the country including Old Bond Street in London, as well as in other cities in the U.K. such as Glasgow, Manchester and Cambridge.
Duffy stressed the importance of having a presence on Regent Street. “Architecturally it’s the most beautiful street. It lost its beauty for a while in the Seventies and Eighties, but I think the Crown Estate has been doing an incredible job reimagining the street.”
The brand has appointed its first ambassador — British actress Gabriella Wilde, who is primarily known for her roles in films including “The Three Musketeers,” “Carrie” and “Endless Love.”
Wilde, who has also been working as an ambassador for Estée Lauder, said she was attracted to the brand’s rich heritage, having grown up learning about Mappin & Webb from her parents. “That kind of heritage and history gives meaning to things. What I think is so lovely about what Mappin and Webb are doing now is they have these pieces and they do look contemporary, youthful and wearable, but there is a history to them, so they have even more value.”
She pointed to two dainty gold necklaces from the brand’s Fope range as among her favorite pieces. “That is how I like to wear jewelry, something you don’t have to take off and you can wear it with anything but is also quite unique and special,” Wilde said. “Working with the brand I got to discover a lot of different pieces. It is such a luxurious label but you can find jewelry that you can wear everyday.”
Wilde is featured as the face of Mappin & Webb’s latest campaign. Shot in an old English country house in Cornwall, the campaign aims to channel a romantic and quintessentially British identity that harks back to the romantic novels by the likes of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, a mood that was fully aligned with Wilde’s latest role in the BBC drama television series “Poldark.”
“The campaign is so feminine and romantic and ‘Poldark’ has a very romantic story line, too. It’s fun being in those old English houses like that and one of the shots we did next to this incredible old tree captures that element of history,” Wilde said. “There was a whole character that we created and a story line, so each image is a moment in the character’s life. Shooting the campaign was almost like another acting job for me.”
The campaign is featured across the store and the brand’s web site, as well as on billboards around the British capital. It will break in U.K. titles in September.
In addition to the renovation of its flagship and the appointment of the brand’s first ambassador, Duffy said adding new ranges was another key part of the team’s relaunch strategy.
“We hugely expanded our product, which is all designed by our in-house team in London. We’ve doubled up our jewelry ranges and really upgraded the watches. Mappin & Webb used to be a huge watch brand and will be again, so we are delighted to re-introduce watches,” Duffy said.
Some of the key additions to the jewelry brand’s offer include a “By Appointment” bridal service, which will offer customers the opportunity to create bespoke engagement rings; the Carrington collection of diamond and round-cut precious stones pieces paying homage to its 242-year heritage, and the Empress collection inspired by the Queen of Siam features white gold and diamond statement cuffs and cocktail rings.
Two new collections of men’s watches — the Clarendon and Austen — as well as a women’s watch collection have been introduced, drawing upon the brand’s heritage as a luxury watchmaker and the team’s experience retailing watches by labels such as Cartier and Patek Philippe.
The relaunch and the two million pound, or $2.6 million, that the brand spent on renovating the Regent Street space coincide with a time of uncertainty in the country following the vote to leave the European Union. Duffy said he remains optimistic despite the inevitable changes that will occur in the market.
“London was always seen as a global market for luxury watches or gold and silver pieces, so there will inevitably be changes in that perception and the pricing. But we are resurrecting so many great brands, each has their own direction and strategy so I’m staying optimistic. Change often presents opportunity,” he said.