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July 5, 2013updated Jul 08, 2013

Smooth Transitions

By Chris Boyle

imgresWhen a designer is eponymous with a brand, keeping the momentum is often a challenge when the designer leaves.  In the case of John Hardy, when the Canadian who had moved to Bali, Indonesia and created one of the jewelry category’s hottest brands retired in 2007 after a management buyout, it has been the deft touch of Frenchman Damien Dernoncourt who has kept things sizzling in the tropical heat. 

From his Hong Kong base but often travelling between Bali and New York, growth has continued despite the challenging U.S. economy.  Previously the brand was nearly completely depending on the American market, but during a recent catch up Dernoncourt noted, “We have two stores here in Hong Kong. We just opened our first men’s store in The (Mandarin Oriental) Landmark a year and a half ago and a single store in Lee Gardens about six months ago, both of which are doing very well.” 

While the U.S. is still central for John Hardy, the CEO adds, “We are fine-tuning the concept, the merchandising and the customer service, trying to perfect them before further expansion into China. Our home is Indonesia, which is where our business has grown very nicely due to loyal customers and of course Bali tourism. We have our factory compound in Bali and will be opening three more locations in the area.” 

Balancing new markets, growth and the transition from the founder seems like a stroll through Bali’s picturesque rice paddies for the relaxed boss. “We are very focused on accessibility and collectability, as we are aware that women want more than one or two pieces. Collectability is in the DNA of the company. We have a lot of loyal John Hardy collectors. We are focused on accessibility in that we are constantly looking to expand who we are and expand the brand,” Dernoncourt noted. 

Despite temptations to grow faster through line extensions you won’t see watches, accessories, fragrances and so forth:  “We have a nice position on the market, but still a lot of opportunity to grow. We want to stay very focused on jewelry and very focused on the US, and building the business step by step in Asia. We are in no rush. We do have our lifestyle business, which includes tableware and other homeware, but more so to show our craft, as we do everything by hand,” the CEO said. “We understand that John Hardy designs are very personal, and you either like it or you don’t.”

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