Bulgari’s North America division has been under the tutelage of president Hervé Perrot for six months — and the executive is off to a running start.
In his first interview since moving to New York to lead Bulgari’s strategic growth in what is the world’s largest luxury market, Perrot outlined an initial blueprint for how the jeweler will take new market share and grow awareness among consumers.
Bulgari parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton feels that the brand has not realized its potential in the U.S. and has begun making significant investments in Bulgari North America — including the division’s most expensive store renovation to date.
“In America we have to accelerate our development and in order to do that the group and brand is making a significant investment and commitment to support our growth,” Perrot said.
The first item on that agenda is to increase Bulgari’s presence on the West Coast, which kicks off this month with a Los Angeles pop-up dedicated to the brand’s Serpenti collection.
Perrot joined Bulgari in September from Christian Dior, where he led the brand’s business in China for more than six years. He succeeded Daniel Paltridge in the position, who has since moved on to lead Valentino in North America. Perrot, who ran Dior in Japan for seven years before transferring to China, now reports directly to Bulgari’s executive vice president for sales and retail, Lelio Gavazza.
Perrot has spent the last six months visiting Bulgari’s stores and key markets across the U.S. and Canada to cultivate a 360-degree view on how to best move the business forward.
When asked what he observed as needing the most improvement, Perrot said: “The Bulgari team did a very good job over the past few years developing brand recognition, but that said we are still a smaller player [in the U.S.] compared to some major brands in the field of jewelry. The question is, ‘How can we accelerate?’ and the answer is that we have to understand the many fundamental strengths we have that makes our brand strong in this country.”
In the coming years that means hitting a delicate balance between store renovations, buzzy marketing events, developing new markets in emerging U.S. and Canadian cities and placing a strong focus on high jewelry clienteling.
“The image of this brand is quite unique and very relevant for American customers because our Italian origin resonates very well with Americans. The history of the brand is quite strong and quite well-known,” Perrot said.
This will be the basis of Bulgari’s high jewelry push in North America. “High end is what generates sales long-term,” Perrot said. “I cannot share specific figures but our share of business for high jewelry in Bulgari North America is extremely high. The brand is recognized as an exceptional brand for high-end jewelry and exceptional craftsmanship with aesthetics that resonate with what American customers are looking for. This is one of our key strengths as we develop even faster.”
And Perrot has a secret weapon to make sure this is put into action. “Our creative director Lucia Silvestri spends a lot of time with us here and she is very interested in meeting with clients and understanding what’s happening in the market. From the creative side, we will have a lot of attention in the market,” he said, adding that Silvestri is also available for custom commissions.
Perrot joined Bulgari and moved to the U.S. after residing in China during the country’s strict zero-COVID-19 policy. The executive, who was raised in Senegal, said he experienced culture shock upon arriving in the U.S., where mask restrictions had already been lifted. “People in the U.S. have learned how to live with COVID-19. It’s quite interesting because it’s what China is going through now. It was quite a surprise,” he said.
“The interesting story is that my three kids live and work in New York so when I came here at the end of August, I had not seen them in almost three years because China was closed — so it was kind of a family reunion,” he added.
Through his cross-country travels, Perrot has targeted the West Coast as a first significant order of business.
“The West Coast is clearly an area of the country with a specific clientele that is very open to fashion trends and there is a very strong concentration of international clientele, which is very interesting for Bulgari,” he said.
Earlier this month, the brand opened a 2,000-square-foot pop-up shop to mark the 75th anniversary of its Serpenti collection. Located at 431 North Rodeo Drive, the shop offers an immersive visual experience relating to all things Serpenti — a collection that Perrot said has a lengthy waiting list due to unexpected consumer demand. The pop-up remains open until April 16.
In September, Bulgari will open a new location in Topanga, California’s Westfield mall and in the fourth quarter, it will open another unit in Costa Mesa’s South Coast Plaza.
The brand is not stopping there. Bulgari’s Rodeo Drive flagship store will undergo a significant renovation that Perrot said is “probably the biggest project the brand has ever done in terms of investment in North America.” The Peter Marino-designed store will begin construction late this year.
Around that same time, the space used this month as a Serpenti pop-up location will transition and become Bulgari’s temporary Beverly Hills flagship to service clients throughout the renovation. Bulgari’s Los Angeles flagship renovation is targeted for reopening in 2025.
This all lays the groundwork for the forthcoming Los Angeles Bulgari Hotel — which is expected to open in 2026, only a year after the hotel brand’s first U.S. location, which is set to open in Miami in 2025.
As the Los Angeles Serpenti pop-up shop demonstrates, Bulgari is intent on opening or refining stores in highly targeted locations.
“We don’t have so many stores in North America. We have 22 stores when most of our competitors have 40 or 50 stores so we are extremely selective, which is a fantastic strength. We want to keep this but what we can do better in some cases is make sure that the stores represent the latest image of the brand. We are planning store renovations in some cases so they are fit to give the best service to clients possible,” Perrot said.
He has also targeted markets including Dallas, Miami and Toronto as “key business areas….I’m impressed by the quality of distribution there,” Perrot said.
New York will continue to be a key focus for Bulgari’s growth as well. In June it will host Perrot’s first important marketing initiative, an immersive exhibit and large-scale opening event to toast the Serpenti anniversary with an art-inspired experience. It will be open to the public throughout the summer.
“We are planning a major exhibition in New York this June on Serpenti, our most iconic product. Every year going forward we will make a major statement like this — a bit of a disruption event to educate and communicate around the brand,” Perrot said.