BULGARI SALES UP 44.2% IN HALF, BOOSTED BY 78% JEWELRY GAIN

Byline: Luisa Zargani

MILAN — Growth in all principal markets, highlighted by meteoric gain in jewelry, elevated Bulgari’s first-half sales by 44.2 percent.
Revenues through June were $263.3 million versus $182.6 million in the first six months of 1999. (Dollar figures have been converted from the Italian lire at current exchange.)
The company said in a statement Friday that its jewelry sales grew a staggering 78 percent during the first half of the year.
“I am extremely pleased with the results obtained in the first half of 2000 which prove once more the potential and the strength of our label,” said Francesco Trapani, Bulgari’s chief executive officer. “In particular, I am pleased with the jewelry division, which is our core business.”
These results reflect the company’s recent efforts to increasingly offer a wider assortment of Bulgari’s classic collections, such as Trika, Parentesi, Tronchett, Bulgari Bulgari and XL.
In recent years, the Rome-based luxury jeweler has diversified to include perfume, eyewear, silk scarves and accessories lines as well as a home collection, produced under license with Rosenthal Group, which includes dishes, porcelain gift items, silverware and crystal glasses.
In the first six months of the year, sales in the watch division jumped 43 percent. This figure did not take into account performance of the new, recently launched Rettangolo watch, with a Thirties-inspired design.
In line with the company’s strategy of further developing its business in the watch market, Bulgari last month purchased two Swiss high-end watch brands — Gerald Genta SA and Daniel Roth SA — from The Hour Glass, a Singapore-listed group, for $22.5 million. Bulgari also took control of the labels’ production facilities, Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie SA.
Bulgari, which went public in 1995, posted consolidated sales of $440 million last year. In 1999, watches accounted for 45 percent of sales, followed by jewels with a 32-percent share. Fragrances accounted for 16 percent, accessories 4 percent and royalties 3 percent. The company distributes and produces fragrances for Bulgari, Ferragamo and Ungaro.
In the six months, accessories grew 21 percent with the launch of a new leather goods line.
In the first half, Bulgari reported strong sales in Italy, Europe and the U.S., which last year accounted for 23 percent of sales. “Southeast Asia and Japan also continue to grow,” said the statement. Last year, Japan accounted for 22 percent of sales and the Far East for 14 percent of sales.
In the statement, Trapani pointed out that the first six months of the year were “particularly intense.” In addition to the Genta and Roth purchase, Trapani said Bulgari is “evaluating the potential of selling selected products online.” Specifically targeting U.S. customers, Bulgari has agreed to team up with LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton to sell on eluxury.com, LVMH’s retail Web site that bowed in the U.S. in May. A selection of Bulgari products is also available at luxlook.com, a luxury goods Web site slated to go live in August, and funded, in part, by Italy’s Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali. Bulgari is also intent on building its luxury goods groups. In May, it announced plans for an investment fund, called Opera SA, based in Luxembourg, which would take stakes in medium-sized Italian companies in the fashion, interior design, tourism, retail and food businesses.
The company will release its first-half earnings Sept. 13.

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