When the government reclassified COVID-19 on May 8 to a Category V infectious disease, the same category as seasonal influenza, there were big expectations that domestic consumption would bounce back at once, and that overseas tourists would return. It seems the expectations have been met only moderately so far, although so-called revenge spending has occurred, most prominently at department stores in large cities, where high-end brands have shown remarkable sales growth. Particularly notable is the rise in consumption of jewelry and watches.
The latest lineups of jewelry and watches boast huge popularity. Even before the pandemic in 2019, many brands saw their sales surpass the previous year’s sales. The phenomenon is global.
Amid such circumstances, two international jewelry brands, Tiffany and Bulgari, recently opened stores along Omotesando avenue in Shibuya and Minato wards, Tokyo.
Let’s start with Tiffany & Co. It was back in November 2019 that French luxury group LVMH announced its acquisition of Tiffany. After some twists and turns, both parties agreed on a modified merger in October 2020, and the acquisition finally went through in 2021 at $15.8 billion.
In 2023, with the pandemic having subsided, the revamp of Tiffany is switching into high gear. First, the brand’s headquarters in New York reopened on April 28 after undergoing its first major refurbishment since moving to its current location on Fifth Avenue in 1940. The renovation began before the buyout by LVMH, yet the finishing touches to the building are luxurious enough to imagine it was not possible without LVMH. The store, one of the largest in Manhattan, was given a new name: “The Landmark,” and has become a hub for Tiffany to sell its allure to the world.
As if to carry over the momentum, Tiffany’s Ginza headquarters, the brand’s flagship store in Japan, underwent renovation and reopened on July 7. It was the third refurbishment after 2008 and 2020 for the store, which opened in the Ginza district of Tokyo’s Chuo Ward in 1996.
Moreover, Tiffany Omotesando, which opened on Sept. 13, 2023, gives off a strong impression that the brand is now under the wing of LVMH. It is the brand’s third store after the New York and Ginza stores to reflect Tiffany’s new brand concept. Tiffany had long wished to open a store facing Omotesando avenue, one of the foremost fashion districts in Tokyo along with Ginza. I presume the brand was looking for suitable properties for years, but its wish was granted after it became affiliated with LVMH. Credit to LVMH for that.
Bulgari is another good example of what it is to become an affiliate of LVMH. In March 2011, LVMH announced that it would acquire Bulgari for about €3.7 billion.
Like Tiffany, Bulgari was also hoping to open a store along Omotesando for a long time. In November 2007, the brand opened a two-floor store — a boutique on the first floor and a cafe on the second — as a tenant of the commercial building Gyre along the avenue. That store closed as part of a management turnaround plan in 2013, after the brand was acquired by LVMH. It seems Bulgari kept hoping to have a store along Omotesando.
That dream came true as a concept store for the brand that opened on the first floor of the Oak Omotesando building (previously the Hanae Mori Building) on Aug. 10, 2023. Coach’s Omotesando branch store had occupied that space until Jan. 9 this year.
“There is no specific end date for the concept store. It is not as if it’s impossible for it to become one of our branch stores,” a representative of Bulgari Japan said.
I presume the possibility that it will become Bulgari’s Omotesando branch store is high.
So, the two major jewelry brands owned by LVMH now occupy the area near the entrance of Omotesando, which must greatly satisfy Chairman and CEO of LVMH Bernard Arnault. Is this proof that good things happen when a brand becomes an affiliate of LVMH? Anyway, LVMH’s approach is to go on the offensive and press pivotal points when doing so.
In the late 1990s, when LVMH was acquiring many luxury brands, Arnault was quoted as saying it is important to keep it secret from the public that these brands belong to the same company (LVMH). Now that there are so many high-end brands under its wing, does he still think the same?
In any case, these are feats that were not possible for Tiffany and Bulgari before they were acquired.
Source: Japan News