Asprey and Garrard separate; Asprey to diversify

After a four-year union, two centuries-old British luxury houses have officially parted ways in an effort to reclaim the brands’ individual heritages and reestablish their historically unique styles.

“We realized we had to give back independent life to each brand,” Asprey & Garrard Group chief executive Gianluca Brozzetti told JCK. “We want to rebuild what they used to be.”

Brozzetti’s vision for Asprey, renowned for its designation as a jeweler to British royalty, includes an expansion of product categories and establishment as a more widely recognized luxury brand. The former Louis Vuitton executive, who joined Asprey & Garrard last June, plans to expand the Asprey chain from three to 10 locations within five years, with a total of 40 stores opening within 10 years. Asia will be the first location for expansion, he said.

Growth of the brand will include the reestablishment of long-abandoned Asprey product categories, Brozzetti said as he flipped the pages an age-stained, decades-old Asprey catalogue and pointed out merchandise like watches, fragrance, shoes, silk, eyewear, and even ready-to-wear.

Garrard, which will not initially have an American presence, will refocus exclusively on jewelry and silver, especially pieces with a more avant-garde style.

About 40 in-house designers are working on the first round of separate Asprey and Garrard product lines, which will be introduced this fall.

At the same time, major renovations are underway at both the London and New York locations.

In New York, the Garrard name has been removed from all store signage at the company’s 9,000-sq.-ft. Fifth Ave. store, which now occupies a corner space in Trump Tower. That location will be expanded to 28,000 sq. ft. with a fall 2003 opening date.

In London, Asprey has moved into a temporary store as its 20,000-sq.-ft. Bond Street location is renovated, and Garrard plans to relocate this fall to its early 20th century home on Albemarle Street.

The two luxury brands will begin actively marketing their individual names to the public this fall, with efforts increasing as the 2003 openings of the New York and London flagship stores approach. Among the marketing angles will be an emphasis on Asprey and Garrard’s British history.

“There is a perception around the world that `British’ means `style.’ It’s about the way things are done,” Brozzetti says. “There is a patina on what comes from that country.”

While Asprey will continue to be a high-end luxury brand, the product diversification will allow more accessibility to a wider-and younger-audience of luxury seekers. “We will continue to be an exclusive luxury house,” he said. “But the price range will enlarge with the addition of product categories.”

The 220-year-old Asprey and 270-year-old Garrard originally merged in 1998 under the luxury group’s financially troubled previous owners.