Morellato Feels It’s Time On Fifth Avenue

The Italian watch and jewelry brand opened its first freestanding store in the U.S. on Saturday, in New York’s landmark French Building at 551 Fifth Avenue. Designed by Milan-based SGS Architects, the 1,600-square-foot boutique houses Morellato‘s jewelry, watch, writing instrument and leather goods collections.

Morellato & Sector Group, which operates the Morellato and Sector divisions, as well as multiple watch and jewelry licenses, is a major player throughout Italy, with sales of $368 million. The Morellato brand encompasses 42 percent of the country’s fashion jewelry market share, according to the company.

In the last year, it opened several boutiques throughout the world in Shanghai; Panama; CancA*n, Mexico; London, and Berlin bringing the total freestanding store count to 57 worldwide. Marco Frison, chief executive officer of the firm’s U.S. subsidiary, Morellato & Sector USA, expects that, in the next three years, 40 percent of the company’s business outside Europe will take place in the U.S. He anticipates the new store will exceed $1 million in sales after its first year.

“Morellato wants to do things in the U.S. in the right way,” Frison said. “The distribution we have in Europe and the structure is something we cannot replicate exactly in the U.S., so we’re studying the right way to enter and the right moment to enter. This is a tough moment for the economy in general, but the Morellato concept is so strong in perceived value. We’re offering prices that are unbeatable, which puts us into a special positioning. We want to let our customers have a luxury experience and an emotional experience.”

All Morellato products range in price from $35 to $300. The new store will offer the firm’s accessibly priced jewelry and watches from its own labels Morellato, Sector and Philip Watches as well as from its licensed brands, which include Roberto Cavalli Timewear, Just Cavalli Time, Just Cavalli Jewels, Miss Sixty watches, Miss Sixty jewelry, Pirelli watches and John Galliano watches, launching next year. The company’s licensed products retail at higher prices, with Pirelli watches capping off the assortment at $14,750.

As to whether the firm is planning a larger-scale U.S. rollout, Frison said Morellato would prefer to remain a niche brand.

“We need to let Morellato enter slowly into the U.S. market,” he said. “Our strategy is not to open a lot of flagship stores. Our target mission is to let American people know more by having a few important locations. We are, however, considering an aggressive marketing campaign and examining our wholesale capabilities.”

Morellato is in talks to expand distribution into department and specialty stores. The firm’s Just Cavalli collection can be found throughout Nordstrom and Macy’s East.

Morellato dates back to 1930, when Giulio Morellato opened a watch repair shop in Bologna, Italy, before going on to specialize in leather watchbands. When he died in 1965, his closest colleague, Silvano Carraro, took over the firm. In the years following, a string of major investments were made in the company as it took on a leading role in European watchband marketing and licensing.

In 1990, Carraro turned over leadership of the company to his sons, Massiwmo and Marco, who are seeking to elevate the brand into a global player.