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Bulgari CEO expects commercial hit from COVID-19 to be recovered within two years

Jean-Christophe-Babin

Bulgari’s chief executive Jean-Christophe Babin believes it will take two years before sales lost during the coronavirus pandemic are recovered.

“I’m confident that over a period of 24 months, we will have recovered most of what was lost during Covid,” he said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “In our business, it’s never lost, it’s more postponed.”

LVMH, which owns Bulgari, TAG Heuer, Zenith, Tiffany & Co. and Hublot saw sales drop by 26% for its jewellery and watches in the first quarter.

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E-commerce rose by triple-digits, according to Mr Babin, but online sales represent less than 10% of turnover.

Most jewellery sales are made through Bulgari’s own network of boutiques, which are typically in the most expensive shopping locations in the world, particularly those that attract high-spending tourists like New York and Las Vegas.

These locations are proving to be the hardest hit as physical stores have closed for months and long haul travel remains virtually frozen.

Bulgari is focusing on domestic customers in countries that are reopening, and there are signs of recovery.

Germany, China and South Korea have all rebounded since lockdowns, according to Mr Babin, who expects a boom in China as its wealthiest consumers shop at home.

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder