February 6, 2008, 12:00 AM

With global sales surging, Blue Nile ships to 12 more foreign markets

After more than doubling international sales last year to $17.2 million, web-only jewelry retailer Blue Nile will begin shipping to customers in 12 additional markets in Europe and Asia, CEO Mark Vadon says.

After more than doubling international sales last year to $17.2 million, web-only jewelry retailer Blue Nile Inc. will begin shipping to customers in 12 additional markets in Europe and Asia, CEO Mark Vadon says. The move will extend Blue Nile’s reach to more than 400 million foreign consumers outside the markets it has been serving in the U.S., Canada, Ireland and the U.K., he adds.

“This launch allows us to build off of the success we have seen in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. and, most of all, provides us with the opportunity to offer unmatched quality, selection, service and value to the more than 400 million residents in these markets,” Vadon says. Blue Nile will offer free shipping throughout the 12 new markets, he adds.

Blue Nile, No. 49 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, launched new web sites in Canada and the U.K. last year to support increases in foreign sales with features such as the ability to buy online in local currencies. It also opened an office in Dublin, Ireland, with customer service and fulfillment operations to better serve its growing customer base in Europe.

The extra attention to foreign markets paid off last year as fourth-quarter international sales grew more than 150% year-over-year and full-year 2007 sales more than doubled the sales of 2006. International sales were strong across multiple product categories including engagement rings, diamonds, pearls and gemstones, the retailer says.

From its U.K. web site at BlueNile.co.uk, Blue Nile will offer free shipping to Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands and Spain through the FedEx International Priority service. All shipments will be sent from the retailer’s Ireland facility and be available for purchase in British pounds.

Blue Nile also will use the FedEx International Priority service to offer free shipping from its U.S.-based BlueNile.com to Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and Taiwan. All shipments will be sent from Blue Nile’s U.S. facility and be available for purchase in U.S. dollars.

Blue Nile based its decision to expand international shipping on an increase in online shopping by foreign consumers, the growth of overseas markets and increased demand from foreign shoppers for service from Blue Nile. Blue Nile has received requests for shipping service from consumers in the Asia-Pacific region since the retailer launched in 1999, and the recent opening of its U.K. web site and Ireland facilities led to increased demand from European consumers, the retailer says.

“International growth will remain a priority for Blue Nile going forward,” Vadon says. “We are excited about introducing the Blue Nile brand into these 12 new markets and will look to this expansion as a basis for pursuing future opportunities as we build out our business overseas.”

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