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New Tiffany NYC flagship will cater to ultra-elite shoppers, says CEO

TIFFANY & CO. will open its Fifth Avenue flagship store, what it now calls the Landmark, on April 28, after a three-year renovation. On the eve of the big day, Bloomberg spoke to Anthony Ledru, chief executive officer (CEO) of the American jewelry brand, which is now part of luxury giant LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE. Among his many goals, he said, is to cater to a more elite clientele and skew the products to a steeper price point. The interview took place on April 21 and has been edited for length and clarity.

Bloomberg: The newly redone store looks amazing. What is your favorite part of the Landmark?

Anthony Ledru: I have two. First, the ground floor; there’s something very generous about it. And very American. The layout is the same as what we had in the 1940s, super inclusive. But when you get in, there is a beautiful skylight that brings light and modernity. And on each side [on digital screens], you have iconic scenes of New York, Central Park.

And my second favorite is the penthouse on the 10th floor, which is the opposite. It’s super exclusive. It’s for maybe one, two, three, maybe zero VIP clients a day.

Bloomberg: In January, Bernard Arnault shared some numbers saying the temporary store was making about $200 million a year. He said the new one will do at least double that. Do you think you’ll reach $400 million in sales? Do you have a date goal for that?

Anthony Ledru: Obviously you would dream of higher numbers. You don’t make these kind of investments not to see an impact. But the obsession is really about brand desirability. What we try to create is a dream. We’re trying to add a really experiential, immersive, and cultural dimension to the project.

It used to be the largest jewelry store in the world. That’s fine. But I think we need to bring a lot more to the table in 2023. And those three dimensions that I mentioned will create the desirability. And that translates into transactions.

It’s a much larger store than before. It literally takes hours to go through it. That’s the reason why there is an experience that is different from one floor to another. The aesthetic approach from our past, which probably made sense in 1920, was consistency. I don’t believe you could realize on which floor you were in the past. It was all the same.

It’s very different today. You get surprised floor by floor. I think some people might spend half the day, they’ll have lunch, breakfast or dinner at the [onsite] Blue Box Cafe by Daniel Boulud.

Bloomberg: In the past there was a reliance on this particular store for 10% of Tiffany’s sales. Do you think that’s likely to increase? Or decline because of your other openings around the world?

Anthony Ledru: It had an extraordinary weight in the past because Tiffany was also extraordinarily North American-centric, perhaps too much so. The strategy of the brand now is really to expand, in Europe in particular. We have a potential in markets where most of our competitors are at the really late stage. And yet when you think about Tiffany, we don’t really have a flagship in Paris today.

Bloomberg: Are you going to build one?

Anthony Ledru: There’s a lot of discussion. For sure we need one or two over there. Potentially we need one that’s more intimate around Place Vendôme and a bigger one around Champs-Élysées, the equivalent of the Fifth Avenue. We’re already there, but we can do much better.

We’re opening one in Milan on Via Monte Napoleone. Today, we’re right behind the Duomo. There’s huge potential. We will also renovate our stores in London. So Europe first will be a big focus of work.

It’s quite extraordinary this year what we’re seeing in the Middle East, too. Dubai Mall, since the store reopening a week ago, has been really impressive. You look at Southeast Asia, it’s the same approach. And of course we have the potential that everybody has in Greater China. We have our Ginza [Tokyo] flagship reopening in July.

Can we still grow in the Americas? I do believe the potential is equally big. We have not invested a lot in the past 10 years in terms of store innovations. That’s the biggest opportunity for us.

Bloomberg: Can you give us a sense of how much the Landmark renovation cost?

Anthony Ledru: No, I cannot, but it’s the largest investment ever made by LVMH on a single store. I think that says a lot.

Bloomberg: Does it reach a billion dollars?

Anthony Ledru: No. Not reaching a billion at all.

Bloomberg: Are there going to be new product lines or new categories that are tied to the store?

Anthony Ledru: We have a few limited, beautiful watches. The push around watches will be on jewelry watches more than anything. There’s one line called Tiffany 57, which will be in the range of $500,000. And then we have a Union Square watch, named after the flagship that we had in the 19th century.

There will be these limited editions, plus new watches next year around the Schlumberger line [named after 20th century Tiffany designer Jean Schlumberger]. We believe there’s something very refined and high end that can be done. Those watches will be around a hundred thousand dollars.

The point is to align the watch business with the jewelry business.

Bloomberg: Since LVMH took over, Tiffany has done collaborations with sportswear brands Supreme and Nike. Some of your European rivals wouldn’t engage in those types of collaborations. Do you think that’s risky?

Anthony Ledru: What’s risky is not to take risk. On one side you have European brands mostly focusing on heritage, and I think it makes sense for them. Then you have fashion brands mostly focusing on modernity. We believe we’re a bit of a mix between the two worlds. When you look at Tiffany, this is the way we’ve been operating for 186 years. On one side it’s the Diamond Kings, Schlumberger, the White House. That’s the heritage part. On the other side, Tiffany has been part of the pop culture. It launched the concept of house designers: Picasso, Peretti. It is really part of our DNA.

When we get criticized, that’s probably a good sign. When you’re referring to Nike, it’s two legendary brands together.

Bloomberg: In the store there’s a lot of contemporary art that’s in Tiffany blue-ish shades, by artists like Basquiat and Daniel Arsham. Last year the dealer Larry Gagosian broke the auction record for an American artist when he bought Andy Warhol’s Sage Shot Blue Marilyn (1964) for $195 million on behalf of an unnamed buyer. When the store opens, will we see that artwork there?

Anthony Ledru: No comment.

Bloomberg: Is Tiffany experiencing a demand slowdown, notably in the US?

Anthony Ledru: Clearly, the world has been slowing down a bit. There were several headwinds in the past 12 months. We’re still in good shape. We believe that the investments that we’re making are for the long term. The Landmark, hopefully, for the next 50 or 100 years pays on the level of investments. You’ll have up and downs in the US. It happened in 2001, 2008. The good news is it always comes back quite quickly in the US.

Bloomberg: Can you tell us a little bit about the VIP services at the Landmark?

Anthony Ledru: It’s a big departure compared to before, since we used to have very few private areas. Now we have generous VIP areas, including the penthouse. It’s close to 8,000 square feet, it’s part of what we call “the diamond on the roof.”

Bloomberg: It seems like with LVMH, the sky’s the limit when it comes to investment in a brand.

Anthony Ledru: I think it’s the big difference between being independent and listed on the stock market. I was at Tiffany pre–acquisition, so I know exactly what was possible and what was not possible. With LVMH, we will have the means to meet our ambition. There is really that long-term view and long-term investment. With the Landmark, you’re going to see the retail transformation that will happen in the next 24 months. When you have these three elements, it’s a game changer: You have more traffic, you have more quality traffic, and you have happier clients that connect and stay longer. — Bloomberg

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