The opening of its first travel-themed store in Salt Lake City today marks the start of a second chapter for the US division of UNOde50.
Before the pandemic, the Madrid-based jewelry retailer operated 105 stores around the world, including 22 in the United States. But many of those American stores were in undesirable places and the company decided the best way out of the unwanted leases was to file for bankruptcy in America.
The company’s U.S. business, officially ARS REI USA, filed a Chapter 11 claim last August in New York bankruptcy court. At the time, it listed assets and liabilities between $ 1 million and $ 10 million, and its managing director Jason McNary awarded the filing, as many retailers who appeared in bankruptcy court in the year. latest, to the COVID-19 pandemic and high rents.
The company is on the cusp of breaking out of bankruptcy, although it encountered apparent hurdles earlier this year. In April, the judge dealing with the case rejected the company’s disclosure statement on its Chapter 11 plan. In bankruptcy, a statement outlining the debtor’s finances must be approved by the bankruptcy court. before it can be sent to creditors to vote on the business plan.
In April, U.S. bankruptcy judge Martin Glenn denied the disclosure statement and sent the company back to the drawing board, saying he was not convinced the company would be able to pay the bankruptcy claims. based on its projected income in 2021, and asked for more details. explaining the basis of his projections. The procedure is underway.
McNary said the filing was an intentional decision “to reject non-strategic leases, step back and assess our real estate strategy. Some stores were a financial burden and we thought it was better to reorganize.
McNary therefore closed the company’s stores on Prince Street in SoHo in New York, Lenox Square in Atlanta and Roosevelt Field in Long Island, NY She also closed her office in Midtown Manhattan and now operates out of Long Island City, NY “We worked with our landlords on most of the leases and got on good terms, but there were some stores that we just shouldn’t have opened,” he said.
The plan, he said, is to come out of bankruptcy later this summer and accelerate its rollout into retail again – but with a different mindset. Globally, the company now has 100 stores, 19 in the United States and 28 in North America. By the end of this year, UNOde50 will increase that number in North America to 36 by adding or moving eight units, McNary said. “We are optimistic about our reorganization plan. Our growth objective is to focus on areas where we have had our greatest success historically. “
This includes Puerto Rico and Florida in particular. McNary, who served as president of Agnes B before joining UNOde50 and is also a board member for the Faherty brand, said Puerto Rico is the brand’s number one market in the United States. It operates two stores there and will add three by August.
There are also six stores in Florida and more to come, including Aventura, which is slated to open in November. This store will sport a design prototype with a much more upscale and minimalist approach with an all-white color palette and a “soft and elegant” touch. That same design will be used in the brand’s store at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, said McNary, who will move in November, as well as in new units at Northpark in Dallas and the Time Warner Center in New York in October and September. . , respectively.
In November, UNOde50 will open a flagship store at 542 Broadway in SoHo, New York, which McNary has called “one of the most important streets in the world to plant a flag.” The store will be 1,625 square feet – of which 700 square feet will be devoted to jewelry and 925 square feet to a gallery to showcase the artwork of its president and creative director, Jose Azulay.
This will only be the second store in the fleet to have a gallery, after the original in Madrid, a two-story unit that opened in February at the corner of Caballero de Gracia, just off Gran Via, the main one. shopping street in the city.
“It will be a window to the world and a dream come true for Jose,” McNary said, adding that Azulay’s sculptures will cost between $ 3,200 and $ 11,250.
UNOde50 was established in Madrid in 1996 and originally only offered 50 pieces of each model, hence its name. In the late 1990s, the company was acquired by Azulay who were looking to offer an assortment that pushes the boundaries of traditional jewelry design. Today the assortment for women and men is entirely made and handcrafted in Spain and Portugal. And although its commercial collections feature over 50 pieces, there are still limited edition offerings that are a nod to the company’s roots.
The store caters primarily to women, although men are gaining in importance, McNary said. The average sale in the United States is $ 140, he said, and top sellers include silver and gold Eslabomba bracelets, a silver snowflake necklace, luminous earrings, and a necklace. from the Ecstasy collection. Prices range from $ 89 for a silver snowflake bracelet and necklaces to around $ 270 and peak at $ 1,500 for some of the limited edition pieces. Globally, UNOde50 counts Pandora, Swarovski and other jewelry and accessories brands as competitors.
Beyond traditional stores, UNOde50 has developed into a new arena: travel themed stores at airports. The Salt Lake City unit is the first of a new concept operated in partnership with the Hudson Group. “We have already worked with Dufry and have stores in store in Puerto Rico at the San Juan airport. This project in the new Delta Terminal in Salt Lake City which opened in September 2020 is a new partnership that has been in development for two years and we are excited to build on that. This is a significant milestone for UNOde50 and our strategy over the next two years is to have at least 25 travel retail stores in the US market.
McNary said the company plans to revamp and expand its website, which only accounts for 12% of its business in the United States; implement a new digital marketing strategy that will speak more closely to its customers and improve its wholesale operations, which account for 40% of sales in the United States. said the goal is to work with retailers to better represent the range’s message in their stores.
“Wholesale will always be an essential part of the business and we are investing in equipment for our wholesale partners so that we are exposed in a more marketable way,” he said. “This is consistent with the company’s new brand image, a global project to renew more than 2,500 points of sale.