Bijoux Terner is breaking out of its travel-retail shell. With 600 stores around the globe—the majority operating in airports, hotels, casinos and on cruise ships—the company is now looking to expand into shopping malls across the United States.
“By design, we are a wonderful accident for people—they just stumble upon us while traveling,” said Gabriel Bottazzi, CEO and president, Bijoux Terner, Miami. “Now, we want to grow our loyal customer base by entering more local markets.”
Bijoux Terner was founded in 1974 with a focus on the design, sale and production of affordable costume jewelry inspired by high fashion. But in 1997 it underwent a major shift and transitioned to a single-price platform, with all goods priced at $10. The company’s value positioning—reinforced with its “Luxury at $10” tagline—struck a positive note with consumers. Since making the switch, Bijoux Terner has grown 15 to 20 times its previous size.
An expanded product lineup has also helped fuel growth. From jewelry and pashminas to handbags and sandals to men’s ties and scarves, Bijoux Terner sells a wide range of accessories. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the company’s focus on fashion. The merchandise reflects the latest trends and appeals to fashion-savvy consumers.
Not surprisingly, Bijoux Terner’s affordable-luxury business model resonates with today’s budget-minded shoppers who want to look stylish without breaking the bank. Sales increased 25% in the first quarter of 2010, according to the privately held chain.
Although travel locations remain key to its business, Bijoux Terner also sees plenty of opportunity in more traditional U.S. retail locations. The company has launched a franchise program to help it expand from travel retail into shopping malls.
“Franchises are the fastest route to growth in mainstream retail locations,” Bottazzi said. “We’re nearly halfway to our goal of securing 15 new franchise-owned stores by the end of 2010.”
According to Bottazzi, the concept offers a number of advantages to franchisees, including quick turnaround time.
“Bijoux Terner’s turnkey strategy means new franchises can open within weeks of signing,” he said.
Chain Store Age Web editor/Associate editor Samantha Murphy spoke with Bottazzi about the company’s expansion and plans going forward.
How would you describe your business model?
Our business model is not just about having inexpensive products. It’s about offering high-quality fashion accessories that are in style. Women will always want to look good, and we have the opportunity to make them look great with a simple concept that is appealing to fashion taste and the wallet.
We’ve stayed true to this promise over the years, and our shoppers know this. About 40% of our customers are repeat shoppers, and while this may not be high for traditional retail, it is for travel retail. We keep items fresh and switch up the merchandise often.
Of your 600 stores, how many are in the United States?
We have 210 stores in the U.S., in travel destinations. We also have seven outlet locations.
What other markets are key?
We have a significant amount of stores floating around the world. In fact, we are on over 180 cruise ships.
Caribbean and South America markets are very important for us, as are certain European countries, such as France, Spain, Greece and Italy. Australia is a growing market.
How many stores are planned for 2010?
We opened 50 stores in 2009; about the same number are planned for this year. Approximately 20 to 25 of those locations will be in the U.S.
Will most of your new stores be franchised?
We plan to grow both corporate-owned stores and franchised locations over the next year or so.
How is the mall expansion going?
Really well. We’re currently in the process of finalizing deals throughout the United States. The Eastern portion of the U.S. is a target for us, and we will continue to look across the country for our airport locations. (At press time, Bijoux Terner had signed three franchises to open a total of seven boutiques in malls in the next several months.)
What has been the reaction of U.S. mall developers to this concept?
It’s been very positive, and not just from a pricing strategy but also to how we merchandise things and design products. They are just as excited as we are.
How has Bijoux Terner weathered the economic storm?
Like many companies, we have seen some of the consequences of the down economy, especially in certain regions where travel-related traffic is down. Our airport stores in Las Vegas and Spain, for example, took a hit as people scaled back on travel. But overall, we have been fortunate to receive significant top-line growth.
Bijoux Terner was very relevant throughout the tough times, and it continues to be relevant. I don’t think consumer mentality will go back to where it was before. People will continue to seek out great deals.
Does the company have any plans to expand into different merchandise categories?
We are always entering new categories even as we exit other ones. We recently started a travel accessories line, such as neck pillows. And our new sandals line has been a great success.
Will Bijoux Terner customers be able to buy online soon?
We’re looking into offering an e-commerce arm. Although we had some supply chain complexities, we are interested in expanding into that channel. For now, customers know if they see something in one of our stores that they want, they should buy it because they probably won’t see it again. That thinking has also helped to influence sales.
Where do you see the company in the future?
We have a very solid base in travel retail, which we will continue to nurture. In addition to expanding the Bijoux Terner brand, we are looking into possibly opening a new concept with various price-points.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I’m very engaged and involved in all of the details of the company. I also like to help others. I lead a path that others can easily follow, and this has helped the company. But overall, I love fashion. I am very passionate about Bijoux Terner and the work that we do, so that makes everything more fun.