The Didier Guérin distribution brand has now become Guérin Joaillerie, a premium jewelry brand. Its Executive Director, Ilanite Attia, updates us on the development.
Sandrine Merle – How did Guérin Joaillerie come about?
Ilanite Attia – It started out as a family business. It was Didier Guérin, just 50 years ago, who founded the network of multi-brand boutiques that bears his name. Mainly located in shopping centres, they offered “no name” jewelry as well as brands such as Arthus Bertrand, Dinh Van, Swarovski, Pandora, etc. Over time, Didier Guérin also started to create and sell his own collections such as Diamant de Rosée. However, this development made his positioning somewhat confusing.
S.M. – In 2012, when Galeries Lafayette bought Didier Guérin, was the brand in danger?
I.A. – We know that there are only 3,000 independent jewelers today, compared to 14,000 in 1977. Didier Guérin was facing new upheavals in the jewelry market – disruptions caused in particular by the arrival of 9-carat gold and fierce competition from fast-growing and highly marketed affordable brands such as Swarovski and Pandora.
S.M. – Why did the you drop the ‘Didier’ from the brand name ?
I.A. – To be honest, it was time to move on. This name took us back to an earlier era, like that of Alain Afflelou! But what’s rather amusing is that the original name of this network of shops was Guérin, but some marketing experts advised the founder to add his first name to make it more personal.
S.M. – You wanted to make it a premium brand, that is an entry-level luxury brand?
I.A. – As Director of Men’s Fashion Purchasing at Galeries Lafayette, I had a front row seat to witness the rise of premium fashion brands such as Sandro, Maje and The Kooples. So I had a feeling of the enormous potential of this same niche in jewelry. At that time, it was still a rather deserted space.
S.M. – Does the opening of a shop on rue de la Paix mark the culmination of this repositioning?
I.A. – We now know who we are, and how to translate and make use of that. In terms of style, we´ve invested the codes with a sense of joy, turning to floral motifs and colored stones, amongst other things. Diamants de Rosée and Alisma are the two emblematic collections. Our core target group is 30-45 year olds, those who have an average of 500 euros to spend. And to our pleasant surprise: the affordability of our jewelry has also made it possible to reach millennials.
S.M. – Will you continue to run sales unlike most jewelry brands?
I.A. – Our positioning is also closely linked to fashion and therefore to renewal. There is no question of giving up the sales that are part of the strategy of any premium brand, regardless of the sector. Obviously, only the capsule collections intended to liven up our offer are placed on sale, never the timeless ones. This is perfectly consistent for the customer, so there’s no risk of devaluing the product.
S.M. – What are your development levers for the future?
I.A. – First of all, the personalization of the jewelry with the possibility of choosing its frame and its stone. Each has its own color, brightness and inclusions. For wedding rings, it’s also possible to set your favorite stone inside. Another focus is the development of points of sale in France (about forty to date) and abroad. Guérin Joaillerie has also just received certification from the RJC (Responsible Jewelry Council). For us jewelers, traceability has become a phenomenal challenge.