Luxury jeweler Shreve, Crump & Low will move its flagship Boston store to Newbury Street as the first step in a reorganization that will absorb a separate company owned by Shreve’s chief executive and expand its facilities in Chestnut Hill.
Shreve will move from 440 Boylston St., where it has operated for seven years, to 39 Newbury St. around the end of the year. In addition, Shreve will take over and rename Chestnut Hill jeweler David & Co., also owned by chief executive David Walker, establish its corporate headquarters there, and double the size of the location to 12,000 square feet over the next 18 months.
“It is really a transitional and growth period in the history of Shreve, Crump & Low,’’ said Brian Walker, assistant of operations at the company and David Walker’s son. “Moving to Newbury Street will bring a heightened level of luxury to Shreve, Crump & Low and having a location in Chestnut Hill will help to better serve our Metro West clientele.’’
The moves by Shreve, which has operated in Boston since the late 18th century, come as the jewelry industry rebounds from the recent recession and pullback in consumer spending. Zale Corp., the North American jewelry chain retailer, reported same store sales rose 8.1 percent in the fiscal year that ended in July, compared to a decrease of nearly 7 percent in the previous year. Annual revenues increased 7.8 percent or $126 million.
Tiffany & Co. the global jeweler based in New York, recently reported that sales in the three months ending in July jumped 30 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Shreve, Crump & Low said its sales grew at a double-digit percentage rate in 2010 and are ahead of that pace this year.
“I think things have corrected themselves after 2008,’’ Brian Walker said. “There’s been a steady balancing growth across the board. Boston has a stable, strong economy.’’
The new Boston store will lose 2,000 square feet or 25 percent of selling space compared to the jeweler’s current location. But the owner believes the three levels of jewelry, giftware, and repair service will provide a more intimate shopping experience, responding to feedback from customers that they felt overwhelmed by the amount of space and merchandise in the Boylston Street store.
In addition, the Walkers said, the move will locate Shreve near other stores that attract high-end shoppers, such as Burberry, Chanel, and Valentino - all stores that offer luxury fashion and goods like perfume, handbags, and accessories , with prices ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
“Moving to Newbury Street is actually upgrading for us,’’ David Walker said. “It’s a beautiful location for our merchandise.’’ The former tenant, Ermenegildo Zegna, a designer men’s apparel store, relocated to Copley Place about five weeks ago.
The Boylston Street store will remain open until the renovations of the new location are complete. A soft opening is expected to begin in December with a grand opening in March after the lease of the current location ends in February.
At the Newbury Street store, the first floor will feature traditional jewelry, such as pearls, engagement rings, and precious stones. On the second level, the watch salon will use European display in which customers look straight ahead at the open merchandise, instead of down at a case. Glass cases will no longer separate the customer and the collection - clerks can bring pieces to personal desks in the showroom and other private spaces. The bridal and gift registry is on the top floor with silverware and wedding gifts.
David Walker bought Shreve out of bankruptcy in 2006, after declining sales and unsuccessful efforts to turn around the Boston institution. The Walkers said they hope the relocation to Newbury Street will be the company’s final Boston move. “The company has been through a roller coaster of economic ups and downs,’’ said Brian Walker said. “We have had half a decade to prove ourselves and that Shreve, Crump & Low is here to stay.’’
Christina Reinwald Boston Globe September 28, 2011