Uno de 50 wants to be a citizen of the world. With retail sales of $100 million in 2018, the Madrid-based jewelry brand is in the midst of an international growth spurt focused on three key countries: China, Russia and Mexico. “We’re starting a very ambitious three-year plan,” said Javier Gala, Uno de 50’s global chief executive officer. “We’re evaluating every opportunity that comes through.”
Earlier this month, the company opened a store in Shanghai and will launch a unit in Beijing, followed by a third opening in March at an as-yet-undisclosed location. The brand expects to have 30 to 40 points of sale in China in the next five years.
“We’re on Tmall and Alibaba in China,” Gala said. “China is very important, not only because of the sales inside the country, but because the Chinese are global shoppers. We’re in Rome, Milan and London, and the Chinese customers are there.” Gala said the brand’s European distribution is “perfect for the next three years.”
Uno de 50 plans to open 12 locations in Russia, in addition to seven existing units, and will unveil five in-store concessions at El Palacio de Hierro, the premium department store in Mexico City. “It’s a first step,” Gala said. “We also have the option of going to high streets in Mexico. It’s an important market. We have very important expansion plans in the Middle East.”
The brand operates 75 stores in 40 countries. With a burgeoning franchise business, the number is closer to 200 units. “We’ve been doing direct stores, but we want to do more franchised units,” Gala said.
A premium jewelry collection featuring semiprecious stones will launch next year. “Inside our business, we’ll have more high-end products,” Gala said. “We like to say we sell feelings and emotions like happiness. We’re more than jewelers. We want people to express their emotions. We want to be different — we’re Spanish. All experiences must have creativity and uniqueness.”
As a case in point, Gala cited La Pedrera, the Antonio Gaudi-designed building with recessed odd-shaped windows that make it look like a grotto, that houses Uno de 50’s Barcelona store. “The building is unique and the brand is unique,” he said. “Our point of sale is the theater of the experience. Our customer is unique and we treat them as if they’re the only ones.”
Storytelling is part of the shopping experience, said Gala, adding, “We have a lot of stories to tell. Customers become members of the Uno de 50 tribe.”
José Azulay, president and chief creative director of Uno de 50, takes an organic approach to designing the collections, which are often influenced by nature. “We present two collections every year with about 200 pieces in each,” Gala said.
Classic pieces include a leather corded necklace decorated with small silver beads and pieces inspired by Masai spears, $399; necklace with dragonfly pendant, $185, and You’re Mine, silver-plated large chain link necklace, $325. The newest collection, which bowed on Oct. 29, features chunky letters of the alphabet in silver or gold plate. “The alphabet has been a huge success all over the world,” Gala said. “People love it everywhere.”
A second store in Puerto Rico is on Uno’s list for 2019. “We’re planning more boutiques for Europe,” Gala said. “Over the next year, open stores in Germany France and the U.K.” Gala added that the company would like to operate a second store in New York as well as launching in cities such as Chicago, Houston, Seattle and Vancouver.
Perhaps Uno de 50’s largest “store” is its e-commerce site, where the company plans to grow share from 7 percent or 8 percent of total sales to 15 percent of all sales by 2021 or 2022. “There’s a big opportunity,” Gala said. “It’s a very fast-growing channel. We’re going in an omnichannel direction.”