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Articles from STERLING SILVER JEWELLERY (867 Articles), FASHION JEWELLERY (291 Articles), CHARMS (273 Articles)


The Hong Kong launch of Thomas Sabo's 2008 collection
The Hong Kong launch of Thomas Sabo's 2008 collection
Thomas Sabo
Thomas Sabo


Take me higher

The next shining star on the charm horizon may well be Thomas Sabo - a slightly different take on the personalised jewellery phenomenon. A recent Hong Kong launch of its 2008 collection has sparked renewed enthusiasm for the brand in its Australian supplier, who now wants see it blast into the stratosphere. COLEBY NICHOLSON attended.

Thomas Sabo is not a well-known name in Australia - it certainly doesn't make one think of an international jewellery brand. But if Phil Edwards, director of Duraflex Group has any say in it, this is all about to change. Edwards is adamant about taking the brand higher - much higher - until Thomas Sabo is respected as one of Australia's premier high-quality jewellery brands.

"We secured the Australian rights to Thomas Sabo in June 2006. We were aware that Sabo was very successful with over 200 of its own stores across Europe and thousands of independent stockists," Edwards said. "And whilst things had been moving along quite well, it wasn't until we launched the Thomas Sabo Charm Club products at the Sydney Trade Fair last year that things really started to take off."

While Australia is only just beginning to fall in love with Thomas Sabo, the rest of its market is already quite smitten with the funky collection of over 400 sterling silver charms and carriers - including bracelets and earrings.

The company was established in 1984 in Bavaria, when jewellery enthusiast Thomas Sabo began his own jewellery enterprise.

The line of sterling silver was quite a success, with retailers ordering more and more with each passing trade show. At the time however, sterling silver jewellery was not branded.

Sabo wanted to change this, so he launched his own brand in the late 1980s.

The label grew from there, with Sabo joining designer Susanne Kölbli as the company's creative director in the early 1990s. The partnership proved most fruitful, with the pair combining their talents to produce a jewellery sensation.

By the end of the 1990s the company went on to open dedicated retail outlets. From here, exclusive stores, shops-in-shops and sales agencies were established in many countries across Europe, Asia and America.

Edwards attended the launch of the 2008 Thomas Sabo Collection in Hong Kong this January, along with sales and marketing director, Rod Kearns. It was the first time that Thomas Sabo had launched its product range outside of Europe, which showed the growing importance of the Asian and Australian markets.

The theme of the launch was Take Me Higher, and it was aptly held on the 75th Floor of the Apex building - the third highest skyscraper in Hong Kong.

Like the brand itself, the Thomas Sabo launch was not your average industry event. In fact, the night felt more like an album launch for a high-profile rock band than the inauguration of a jewellery collection.

Many Hong Kong celebrities were in attendance to impart a red-carpet ambience, but the star of the show was definitely Thomas Sabo himself - who looked more like a rock star than anyone there.

The theme of the Thomas Sabo launch was 'Take Me Higher'
The theme of the Thomas Sabo launch was 'Take Me Higher'

Indeed, one post-event article described him as reminiscent of a "semi-retired Hell's Angel … With his shaggy ash blond hair, weather-beaten face and black leather pants and T-shirt".

The launch of the 2008 Collection was a stunning success with retail partners attending from all over Asia, even Mongolia.

And the event proved an invaluable learning experience for the Australian arm of the brand: "We were aware that Sabo was an excellent range but it wasn't until we saw the launch and met Thomas and his team did we truly understand the sheer size and power of the brand. It became obvious how successful this brand is," Edwards explained.

Kearns said it was a great to talk to and learn from the Asian distributors who had been dealing with the product for a few years.

"What becomes apparent with a well-established European brand in Asia, is that Asia has a hunger for luxury brands," Kearns said.

He went on to explain that the Asian market is very receptive to jewellery brands and appreciative of a brand's heritage and history. The Australian market however, is a little less accustomed to jewellery brands at this stage. "In the Australian market, jewellery brands are a new concept, so we've got to be conscious of how we convey the strength of the Thomas Sabo brand to the trade and the consumer."

Kearns believes the strength of the brand is the company behind it, it's founder and the story of its inception: "That is a reassuring message to tell and sell and we like having that kind of message," he said. "We like the challenge and the opportunity to present a brand with history and heritage."

Expect to see resonance from the Hong Kong launch here in Australia, with Edwards now completely energised to elevate the brand to super-stardom in this country.

"We learned that we need to ensure we establish the brand with quality retail outlets," he said. "Having seen this company in action we are more excited than ever about Thomas Sabo in Australia."

And Kearns shares this sentiment: "Thomas Sabo has a lot going for it. With results in other markets, it is an exciting opportunity for us and our customers independent jewellers - to stake a position for the consumer dollar against the major chains.".

Image Gallery (4 Images)
Coleby Nicholson

Former Publisher • Jeweller Magazine

Coleby Nicholson launched Jeweller in 1996 and was also publisher and managing editor from 2006 to 2019. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than 20 years and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

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