LINKS OF LONDON LANDS ON MADISON
Byline: James Fallon
LONDON — Links of London is hoping its British style will be a hit in New York.
The 10-year retailer of sterling silver jewelry, gifts and accessories has opened its first store in the U.S., at 54th Street and Madison Avenue in New York. The 1,000-square-foot store is the first of what the company hopes will be a chain of 25 to 30 units in major cities in the States.
“This store is the flagship with a view to rolling out throughout America,” said Annoushka Ducas, who founded Links a decade ago with her husband, John Ayton. “The U.S. is the most important market in the world and you have to be there.”
Links believes the same things that built the company to sales of $15.2 million a year in the U.K. should work in the U.S. The firm has carved out a niche for women’s and men’s silver jewelry with clean, modern lines at retail prices starting at about $60 and only occasionally running over $750. Key products are cuff links, bangles, earrings and necklaces. The gifts and accessories lines — ranging from baby rattles to ice buckets — are at similar price points.
Links recently has begun expanding beyond its core base of sterling silver by introducing more 18-karat gold jewelry, as well as designs using semiprecious stones such as topaz and amethyst. It may also introduce some items that use precious stones, Ducas said. The company also sees big potential in expanding its watch line.
“But we don’t want to do pieces that cost thousands and thousands of dollars,” she stressed. “What we’re doing are pieces that combine sterling silver, gold and semiprecious stones. That gives us the niche for jewelry under $1,500.”
Ducas oversees the design of all the collections, while Ayton handles the business operations along with Links’ new managing director, Gareth Morris, former managing director of the English men’s wear retailer Hackett.
Links has about 1,100 products and changes about 25 percent of the assortment a year. The Madison Avenue store is projected to have first-year sales of $1.5 million to $2.3 million.
“What we do is young but it meets an awful lot of peoples’ needs,” Ducas said, noting that Links’ core customer is aged 30 to 45. “We don’t do cutting-edge, trendy jewelry, which usually has to be inexpensive because its style doesn’t last very long. We are affordable and contemporary classic.”
One of Links’ designers will transfer from the U.K. to New York, where he will work in the store for the next two years.
“That shows how important we believe the U.S. is,” Ducas said. “We need someone on the ground who understands what the customer wants. There is another 1,000 square feet downstairs that we will turn into an area for business gifts and for doing one-ofs for customers. We think there will be a big demand for that in New York.”
Links has 11 stores in the U.K. — including seven in London — as well as two units in Hong Kong and a store each in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. A store in Singapore is due to open in late July followed by a store in Hamburg, Germany, in September.
The company also wholesales to such department stores as Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Isetan in Tokyo, Selfridges and Harrods in London, Brown Thomas in Dublin, Bon Marche in Paris and Holt Renfrew in Toronto. It believes the New York store will help boost its wholesale business in the United States.
“Our closest competition in London is Tiffany’s second floor and it will be the same in New York,” Ducas said. “But Tiffany has actually helped us because it is scaling back its wholesale worldwide. That’s opened up huge possibilities for us because I don’t know of any other company that offers the breadth [of merchandise that] we do.”