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Tiffany’s International Sales Set to Exceed U.S. on New Stores

Tiffany & Co., the world’s second-largest jewelry retailer, will soon get more revenue from outside the U.S. than from its home market as it opens stores in Europe, the head of the company’s French unit said.

An influx of Chinese and Russian tourists to Europe is helping boost sales in the region, Agnes Cromback, president of Tiffany France, said yesterday in an interview at the jeweler’s store near Place Vendome in Paris.

“We have very good average spend with Chinese,” some of whom come to France’s capital for only one day during European tours, Cromback said. “Tiffany’s international business will soon be more important than the U.S.”

The proportion of Tiffany’s revenue coming from the U.S. dropped to about half in the year through January from about 61 percent four years prior. The New York-based jeweler expects full-year sales in Europe, where it usually gets about a tenth of its revenue, to increase by at least 20 percent this year, Chief Financial Officer Patrick F. McGuiness said last month.

Tiffany operated 31 stores in Europe as of July 31. The company will open its fourth store in France and first outside Paris in Nice as soon as March, Cromback said.

‘Show It Off’

“The further south you go, the more people like jewelry and like to show it off,” she said.

As well as looking at openings around Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, the jeweler will continue refurbishing boutiques, with the shop near Place Vendome set for renovation in 2013, she said.

Tiffany’s three French boutiques are within about a 15 minute walk of each other in Paris. Two are in neighboring department stores Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.

Department stores, which have been upgrading their store design, product selection and service, attract a different type of luxury consumer, partly because they’re less intimidating, Cromback said. The format also attracts more shoppers. With as many as 100,000 visitors a day, Galeries Lafayette greets more people than the Eiffel Tower, she said.

“If you’re preparing something very important and you want the shopping experience, you come here,” Cromback said, referring to Place Vendome. “If you want to be efficient, you go to the department store.”

Price increases helped Tiffany raise its full-year earnings forecast last month. So far, that hasn’t affected sales in France, Cromback said. Tiffany’s prices range from 35 euros ($48.35) to more than 200,000 euros in Europe, she said. The company doesn’t offer discounts.

The jeweler gets about 25 percent of its annual revenue during the Christmas shopping season, Cromback said.

“This is the serious part of the year,” she said. “I hope that tourism will be up and people will be willing to spend money.”

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