Expanded offer, increased distribution, external growth, development abroad…Clio Blue, recently listed on the stock market and well-known on the silver jewelry market, is gearing up for a new expansion stage. The brand’s CEO for the past four and a half years, talks to us about the originality and ambitions of the Parisian label with two kissing fish.
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Clio Blue was listed on the stock market at the end of 2015. What is the motivation behind this rather unusual step for an SME?
Maison Clio Blue, a holding company whose main subsidiary is the Clio Blue label, entered the stock market at the beginning of last December. It is the way that we chose to support our development, to give us greater options for financing and to position the company while preparing for projects abroad. Capital should increase quickly for that reason.
What are the key areas for development?
First, external growth through purchases. We are looking for actors who are established in the sterling silver jewelry sector, with lines that are complementary to ours at Clio Blue. They could be either labels or distributors in France and abroad, who have the exclusivity of a label. The first purchase, finalized in mid-January, is Essential Diffusion, managed by Géraldine Pougner, responsible for distributing the Swiss label, Rita&Zia. International expansion is another direction for development. We plan to open points of sale in Asia with the support of partners, license-holders or distributors. For example, in Japan, where we will set up an office, we will soon experiment with a model for a Clio Blue concept store that will include jewelry among a larger accessories offer.
What is Clio Blue’s DNA today?
I have noticed that the best-selling products are closely attached to the label’s sterling silver DNA and its historical emblem, that is the two little kissing fish. The fish is a symbol that is very well accepted universally, in particular in Asia where it is associated with abundance, luck, etc. It is undeniably an asset for export.
What is its product positioning?
Clio Blue benefits from a very strong notoriety. It has a solid history in the silver jewelry segment, which I call “small jewelry”: something that an elegant woman would like to buy in gold or with precious stones but she finds a more affordable price for silver and with semi-precious stones with us. Our offer is made up of both timeless products, as well as an important share of renewed collections. Men’s lines, like those in other accessories, are constantly enriched with watches, hair jewelry, scarves and recently, leather goods. It is quite exceptional to have gained such notoriety without the visibility of nation-wide stores.
Will you use new distribution channels?
The largest portion of the task was to optimize our geographical implantation, on the fashion jewelry circuit as well as on the traditional circuit, while increasing our presence in department stores. We are in all of the department stores in Paris except for the BHV and Bon Marché. Outside of Paris, we have opened in 40 Galeries Lafayette and about a dozen Printemps.
How are you distributed between traditional jewelry and fashion jewelry stores?
At first, the preference for gold from traditional jewelry stores led Clio Blue to the fashion jewelry market. Things are starting to change: the Watches and Gold Jewelry network has a demand now. We hope to have a sufficient mixture while remaining selective.
Have you restructured your sales force?
No, only renewal due to retirement or changes in activity. We still have 6 multi-label agents, including one dedicated to the French overseas regions, where we have just opened eight points of sale.
What help for sales do you provide to retailers?
We do not set a minimum for orders, but we encourage them to take a portion that represents a collection, even a small theme, which accounts for about 3,000 € for women and 1,000 € for men. We suggest a coefficient of 2.8. When an order is placed, we deliver jewelry and watch displays, documentation – which includes catalogs, look books, as well as all of the logoed packaging. Also, our after sales service, based in Paris, is free of charge for defective products and one person handles repair requests.
How do you organize the creation of collections?
Everything goes from here, in Paris. My sister, Danièle Morineau is manager of the style office which chooses themes and designs the jewelry. Our expertise and collection history makes incites us to maintain in-house conception. After approval, prototypes are made by our manufacturing partners in Italy. We develop 3 collections per year: winter, summer and end of year holidays. A total of 500 new references are created for women, to which we add a smaller amount for men and other accessories. We are launching a line of leather goods in January 2016 which will have two collections in the long run – fall/winter and spring/summer, as well as timeless pieces.
Where do you manufacture?
Our jewelry production is mainly concentrated in Italy and in France, allowing us greater reactivity for delivery within 15 days. The manufacture of silver jewelry is handled by our exclusive manufacturer in Arezzo, in Tuscany. We also work with an Italian supplier for our chain products.
In which trade shows have you decided to exhibit this year?
We will participate in the Hong Kong trade show, which is crucial to our projects in Asia. As for Europe, we are quite perplex. We have made several attempts, which frankly, have not been conclusive…So much so that we are again opting for a presentation of our collections in our Parisian showroom.
Interview by Lydia Christidis and Sid-Ali Chikh
Based in Paris 3rd district, rue de Bretagne, along with the administrative offices, design office and the flagship store, Clio Blue distributes in France in nearly 200 points of sale, multi-labels and in corners in Parisian department stores. The company has 40 employees. Revenue for 2015 was 3,3 million euros. Overall, French multi-labels account for 50% of revenue, department store corners for 25% and the rest from abroad and the Internet.
The company distributes abroad via department stores (Europe and Asia) and through distribution contracts, in particular with China and Japan.
The company was set the objective of doubling revenue by 2020.