Bailey Banks & Biddle just opened a store in Austin, Texas, its eighth, and it hopes to grow to a 25-store chain in the next five years, says CEO and president Steve Velasquez.
Its expansion will be concentrated in Texas and the Northeast, where the 180-year-old brand still has strong name recognition.
“Part of our strategy is to go in places where the name has strength,” says Velasquez, who has headed the chain for the last year and a half. “We still have people come in and say, ‘My mom bought from you, my grandfather bought from you.’ ”
The store’s formats have changed—where they once stood at 30,000 square feet, the new stores now cover a more modest 3,000. Its new format stresses bridal, color, timepieces, and designer shop-in-shops. Its Austin store, located in the Barton Creek Mall, features Simon G. and Kirk Kara, as well as Oris, Tissot, and Longines watch brands.
The company is also targeting younger consumers on social networks such as Facebook and Instagram.
“We want to take Bailey Banks into the 21st century but keep the DNA of the level of quality and service,” he says.
Of course, Bailey Banks, a chain that was founded in 1832 and once numbered 67 stores, has not had an easy time of it in the 21st century. Following 45 years of ownership by Zale, it was purchased by Finlay in 2007 and then got caught in the latter’s liquidation two years later. That same year, Twin Field, a consortium of trade and financial investors, purchased its intellectual property. The new Bailey Banks was first relaunched in 2010 by former Zale exec Paul Leonard. Two years later, Smyth Jewelers took over day-to-day management. Samuels managed it briefly after that. Velasquez, former president and COO of Samuels, took over in June 2014, although the company is no longer connected to Samuels.