Unode50 betting big on international expansion this year

Spanish jewellery firm Unode50 has set its sights on international growth this year, with a key focus on Asian and Latin American markets. The brand has opened a subsidiary in Mexico and is preparing the opening of several stores in Russia and China.

Unode50's store in Saint Petersburg, Russia - Uno de 50

China is one of Unode50’s main priorities. Currently based there is CEO Javier Gala, who tells “This is a great moment to enter the Chinese market, and we have been well received there. We are planning to open five stores this year, with the number rising to 35 boutiques over the next three years.”

The brand is entering in China in collaboration with a franchise partner, and will repeat the approach when it launches in Russia later this year. Russia, like China, is a key part of Unode50’s expansion strategy.

“It is our second growth project,” CEO Javier Gala explains, as he reveals that six Russian stores will open with a local partner this year. In total, the company wants to have a dozen locations in Russia by 2021.

Franchising seems to be the company’s strategy for growth. Indeed, there are plans to open a further franchise in Iceland in the coming months. Gala explains that the brand will become more selective when it comes to opening its own stores. Meanwhile in Mexico, where Unode50 already has a significant presence, the brand is gearing up five concessions in different Palacio del Hierro stores, a department store chain.

One of the brand's jewellery stores in Madrid - Uno de 50

Additionally, the firm has recently opened a subsidiary in Mexico “to support what is already underway and our teams there,” the CEO said. The five Mexican stores will open in the first half of the year, and in the second half, the brand will further expand its footprint in North America with the opening of its third point of sale in Puerto Rico.

The international expansion will help the brand move closer towards its goal of having 150 stores by 2022. It currently operates 92 stores (including franchises, own stores, concessions and shop-in-shops).

Beyond the opening of new stores, Unode50 is also focusing on consolidating its business in the markets where it has already gained a foothold, such as Germany and France. And it will also explore new growth opportunities.

“This a brand with many opportunities and we have a lot to do. There are new markets to be exploited, but also new channels,” Javier Gala says. It follows a recent partnership with Zalando, which will see Unode50 start to sell some of its designs on the online marketplace in the second half of the year.

The company will also explore the duty-free format this year, testing the travel retail channel in countries including the US and Russia.

With such a busy year and ambitious international plans, is Unode50 seeking funding via a capital increase or other formats? The company’s CEO isn't ruling it out. “It is clear that this would help us build a global brand in less time,” he says.

Javier Gala took over the role of chief executive officer of the company at the end of spring last year, succeeding Javier Arrevola in the role. In 2018, the brand, whose revenues are not disclosed, experienced organic growth of 5%, and increased its EBITDA by 75% compared with the previous year.

Translated by Barbara Santamaria

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