MILAN — Baccarat introduced a new luxury retail concept in Milan this week, in conjunction with the city’s furniture and design trade show Salone del Mobile.
Discreetly positioned in a 1,944-square-foot space in a courtyard on Via Montenapoleone, and marked by a stunning red chandelier outside its main door, the Baccarat Boutique, Bbar and Lounge is inspired by the brand’s Bar & Lounge of the Baccarat Hotel in New York.
The location and interiors, however, are quintessentially Milanese, characterized by modern frescoes by multidisciplinary artist and art director Alexandre Benjamin Navet.
“This is the first such store in the world and it had to be in via Montenapoleone,” said chief executive officer Daniela Riccardi during an exclusive preview on Tuesday. “Everyone today talks about offering experiences, and in some cases it’s a bit of a stretch, but this is actually our world, part of our history,” contended Riccardi, who joined Baccarat in in June 2013 after holding the same position at Diesel for two years. Before that, she spent 25 years at Procter & Gamble, where she held numerous senior roles, including vice president in Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela. From 2005 to 2010, she was the consumer products giant’s president in Greater China.
“I really wanted to find the right place for this concept and I’m so pleased because this is a cocoon with elements of the Italian tradition and our own heritage, but it is also modern and glamorous,” said Riccardi.
The executive has been injecting modern touches to the 254-year-old French crystal specialist. “It’s important to talk to the luxury world today, but also to young people, and to offer a meeting point,” she said. Riccardi has contributed to dusting off the brand, waving away the concept of coordinated sets of crystal, which in her view was too old-fashioned, in favor of mixing and matching different designs and styles. This also helps attract new customers, who feel liberated in adding single elements to their collections, reassorting them and using them on a more regular basis.
On the menu, which Riccardi designed, in addition to detailing breakfast, light lunch, tea time and aperitif choices, there is a page dedicated to gifting including, for example, a set of four glasses in the Château Baccarat Degustation Box, retailing at 195 euros; a Bubble Box set of six Champagne flutes at 850 euros, and the Café Baccarat set of two coffee cups and tray at 295 euros.
Vases are also a big business for the company, said Riccardi, who has been focusing on leveraging the reputation of Baccarat and its unique know-how, with the same production location for those 254 years in the French town bearing the brand’s name and its 500 employees in manufacturing.
The executive has worked on developing digital communication and content to reach out to different markets.
The Milan boutique, bar and lounge was designed internally. Special elements are a chandelier Tuile de Cristal designed by Arik Levy and the bar counter designed by Jacques Grange covered in small crystal tiles; Zenith chandeliers; the Candy Light lamps by Jaime Hayon and the panthers by George Chevalier. The space is punctuated by octagonal wood tables — a reference to the brand’s signature red octagonal crystal — and velvet seats in red, mustard-yellow or blue.
An additional option for guests is to be able to choose glasses depending on the drinks ordered.
Riccardi did not reveal the amounts invested in the Milan unit. “It’s part of the two or three big investments in 2019.” This includes the extension of the concept this summer to a venue with a terrace in Miami’s Design District, adapting it to the location.
“There are opportunities in the U.S. and China,” said Riccardi, noting that young Chinese tourists had been trying to enter the store throughout the day, despite it still being closed, as it was inaugurated later that evening. There are 65 stores carrying Baccarat, between direct and multibrand points of sale.
Japan is Baccarat’s first market, followed by Europe, which saw a 20.1 percent uptick in sales despite the social unrest and “yellow-vests” protests in France, especially in December.
A publicly listed company on Paris’ Euronext, Baccarat sales last year closed up 2.9 percent to 150.9 million euros. At constant exchange, they rose 5.2 percent.
Since June 2018, the company is controlled by Fortune Fountain Capital, through Fortune Legend Limited Sàrl.