DUBAI — David and Sybil Yurman flew here this week to launch their first retail operations in the Middle East. The American jewelry brand opened two pop-up stores at Bloomingdale’s in The Dubai Mall and at Harvey Nichols — Dubai in the Mall of the Emirates.
“This was a long courtship, our coming to the region,” said David Yurman. The launch is in partnership with Al Tayer Group, which owns and operates both of the department stores in Dubai. Al Tayer first met with Yurman nine years ago, in what the jeweler describes as a “romance” to partner together. But David Yurman said the company at the time was not prepared to expand overseas.
“Our company was not ready with all the logistics and infrastructure it takes to enter a new market then,” he said, adding that Dubai also has changed remarkably in that time.
Sitting in the Bloomingdale’s Dubai private shopping suite with his high-jewelry line, he gestured out the window, “When we came for our first visit almost a decade ago, this did not exist at all.”
He believes the market is ready for the collection, reflecting Yurman’s brand ethos. “What we brought to the market in the U.S. was accessible jewelry for a lifestyle that changed over 30 years ago. Back when we launched women hardly bought their own jewelry. This came out of the Women’s Lib movement in the Sixties and Seventies. We created a category of relaxed American luxury that’s very democratic and accessible. Shopping is probably the first area where women are empowered and women have choice. And in this part of the world you see that a lot. Women adorn themselves so beautifully and have a strong sense of style.”
The arrival of chief executive officer Gabriella Forte to the Yurman team last year helped propel the entry into the region, with the business set up for expansion now. “Dubai is one of the region’s busiest shopping destinations and a window to other countries in the region. This market is key to our international growth and expansion plans,” said Forte.
The brand’s international footprint prior to the Dubai launch was in Canada and France. Forte said that the Dubai locations give Yurman the opportunity to reach many more markets and customers. The company has added a London office that will oversee the Middle East and European expansion.
The Yurmans, whose company still operates very much as a family affair, with both Sybil and son Evan involved in the business, said they were moved by the family nature of the Al Tayer Group. “The Al Tayers are also a family business, which to us is very impressive. We had a chance to get to know not only Khalid, the ceo, but the entire family. Those values are important to us,” said Sybil Yurman. “Plus they are just very, very good at what they do.”
At the opening, Khalid Al Tayer said, “What we really try to do for our customers in the Middle East is bring them the best the world has to offer. The relationship with David Yurman as a brand and the Yurmans as a family is one we developed over time, where we got to see the amazing work they do and the success they have had and we knew it would resonate well here. We met on multiple occasions and watched the company grow over the years. The timing was just right now.”
At Bloomingdale’s, Yurman will be present in three spaces: a dedicated 130-square-foot shop and two unique areas for visual presentation. At Harvey Nichols — Dubai, the brand will be housed in a 170-square-foot space. The shops echo the aesthetic at the brand’s New York City flagships on Madison Avenue and in SoHo with tambour wood vitrines, travertine countertops and polished metal finishes.
The Dubai stores will carry Yurman’s women’s collection and high jewelry. The brand’s well-known Renaissance cable bracelet will be featured in various designs and new collections include Pure Form, Stax and Supernova, as well as established collections such as Albion Gold, Solari, Pinky Rings and Chatelaine Pavé. Sybil Yurman said they plan to do special collections specifically for the region. “They love color here, especially green, so we will definitely do something special with that for the Middle East.”