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Jul 29, 2021
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Unode50 eyes US and Puerto Rico expansion post-pandemic

Jul 29, 2021

Unode50 is gearing up for a retail expansion with the opening of a new store on Wednesday at Plaza Carolina. The opening is part of larger expansion plans to launch more stores in the US and the Puerto Rico markets, as the high-end jewelry brand eyes a new growth strategy post-pandemic.

Unode50 eyes US and Puerto Rico expansion post-pandemic. - Unode50

Indeed, Unode50 has been on a whirlwind due to Covid-19. Its US business filled for Chapter 11, last August in New York bankruptcy court and is still attempting to emerge, but among expansion plans the Madrid-born jewelry brand is turning a new leaf. 

The jewelry brand, founded by designer Jose Azulay in 1996, currently operates over 150 stores globally in prominent cities across Europe, Asia and America. In the US, it operates 20 of those stores and is set to open 9 new retail stores by the end of the year bringing its total to 29 US locations. 

Noteworthy openings include a Soho Flagship with art gallery this December. The 1,625-square foot store will be in the heart of Soho and will feature both a store space and gallery space with art from the brand’s creative director and president, Jose Azulay.

Most recently, the brand also opened its first travel-themed store in Salt Lake City with Hudson Group, with plans to open at least 25 travel retail stores across the US market. On top of its own retail operations, the brand is equally putting the focus on renewing its wholesale network and its spaces in the multi-brand channel. The global project will include the renewal of over 2500 points of sale.

From bankruptcy to navigating the latest retail landscape, and launching expansion plans, we chatted with chief executive officer Jason McNary, to learn more about where the brand is headed post-pandemic. 

How were your retail operations affected by the Covid-19 pandemic?
Overnight, our entire operations were affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic. On March 16, lockdowns commenced and come the following day, we announced the temporary closure of all of our US and Canadian retail stores. It was a challenge like none other we’ve faced before, but we're emerging stronger than ever.

How are your retail operations now that the economy is reopening? 
We have recaptured about 90 percent of sales when compared to 2019. We feel confident about the back half of 2021, as we keep a close eye on all our channels. Simply put, our focus is to extend our reach to new customers.

When did you launch plans to open more stores in the US & Puerto Rico?
We have been planning and analyzing the best markets for Unode50's expansion in the US and Puerto Rico for the past 2-3 years. We wanted to ensure we understood the possibilities and potential of each market, and choose locations that will work for the brand not only at the business level, but also with our brand's positioning as a premium player in the category.

Why are you looking to expand in these areas? 
These areas are where we see that we have a good customer base and following, so it just makes sense for our growth plan. We’re focused on investing in areas where we can continue to grow and to bring Unode50 closer to customers that love the brand and creative direction.

Are there particular areas in the US & Puerto Rico you are focusing on for expansion? 
In the US, we're focusing on Florida, New York, and Texas, while in Puerto Rico, we're focusing on Carolina, Bayamón and Hatillo, as well protecting our existing fleet in San Juan and Ponce.

Tell me more about the opening of your first Travel Retail store. 
This is a huge milestone for Unode50 and a big part of our strategy. Over the next two years, we plan to have at least 25 travel retail stores across the US market, as we look to replicate this formula in both Latin and South America.

Besides retail, what is Unode50 doing to remain relevant among customers? 
From a product perspective, we are consistently evolving our collections and celebrating individuality. We are launching our piercings collection, which is a capsule of earrings featuring core Unode50 designs that will reach a new consumer target demographic. We are also launching a zodiac signs collection, a newer personalization collection, and a collection of necklaces that will be great for layering. 

In addition, we are re-platforming our website. It is not a redesign, but more about repositioning the website and our entire digital presence to succeed in the coming years.

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