“Pandora is on a journey,” said Sid Keswani, the Copenhagen-based jewelry brand’s president of the Americas, “and we know transformation doesn’t happen overnight.”
It’s a sentiment that rings true in recent months as the brand, known for its customizable charms, pushes forward with a massive rebranding effort.
The refresh, which the jewelry brand kicked off in Los Angeles with a consumer-facing street art celebration and influencer luncheon, sees the brand take on a new visual identify, redesigned logo, an updated web site, and launch new collections. Now, just in time for the holiday season, the relaunch is entering a new phase with the opening of a retail concept at the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J.
“Our goal is to hit as many touch points as we can, and the retail floor is our most important touch point,” Keswani said of the rebrand strategy.
The new retail concept first launched in September in the United Kingdom but the Paramus store is the first of its kind Stateside.
The refurbished store space, which originally opened in 2014, has 735 square feet of active selling space and reimagines everything from color choice to lighting. But the real focus, according to the executive, is creating a welcoming and interactive retail environment.
“We really were thinking about a new store design that was warm and friendly,” Keswani said, noting the current store model, which is around eight years old, has been successful but no longer suits today’s customer.
“The world has changed; shopping habits have changed,” he said. “We knew we had to launch a new concept as part of the brand’s relaunch.”
The new store takes the jewelry out from behind glass cases, putting it in front of the customer, first with a “Charm Bar” concept where shoppers can touch and feel the mix of options, creating their own pieces that work with their individual style. Personal moments is an idea the brand is zeroing in on, or as Keswani puts it, “We believe our jewelry gives a voice to people’s loves.”
Pandora’s jewelry offerings hit a variety of price points, with some charms at $30, bangles at $200 and topping out with a 14K gold barrel clasp bracelet for $2,500.
One new collection, Pandora Me — faced by “Stranger Things” actress and activist Millie Bobby Brown — has a low opening price point of $10 and focuses on a younger demographic. Keswani said while it’s premature to give numbers, the newly launched assortment is performing in line with company expectations and has seen “an uptick in the number of units selling.”
“I think the future is people want to shop with you, versus opposite of you,” he said of the brand’s new hands-on retail approach, aimed at creating an experience with its customer base.
Another feature is the “Treasure Table,” where various collections are merchandised.
The store’s merchandising approach has been revamped as well — whereas in the previous model the category dictated the layout, that’s no longer the case with rings just with rings. Now the collections sit together, mixing categories.
“We are merchandising our stores with collectability in mind,” Keswani said of the new strategy, “creating a more holistic experience for the customer.”
New in-house engraving is another way the brand is underscoring its personalization narrative. A recent pop-up in New York’s Turnstyle Underground Market at Columbus Circle launched the feature but the Paramus store is the first of its bricks-and mortar stores to unveil it.
In terms of square footage, the New Jersey store is considered an average-size store, but volume-wise Keswani said it ranks mid to high, but isn’t part of its top 10 percent.
“In general, in the U.S., we tend to have slightly higher volumes in stores than the rest of the world, so testing new prototypes in all volumes is critical,” the executive explained, saying the holiday season will really be a test.
A few months into its restructuring program, the Danish brand has seen a few bumps in the road — this week its stock plunged more than 17 percent after third quarter results missed expectations.
Keswani acknowledged the results “weren’t great,” but said they reflect numbers pre-relaunch, adding, “In general we are starting to see some data pointing to a successful relaunch,” disclosing that the company does have early data showing “a more positive story moving forward.” But he said it is too early to comment specifically.
While the retail landscape is evolving with storefronts taking a back seat in the brand’s equation, Pandora still sees the value of proper brick-and-mortar locations.
“We are seeing a majority of our customers start their journey online, north of 75 percent,” he said. “But 80 percent of our transactions are happening in our stores. So, while they want to see what we have first, they then want to touch and feel the jewelry before they buy.”
The brand has 380 stores in the U.S., with 150 it owns and operates. Globally the Pandora business breaks down to a 50/50 split between the brand’s owned and operated stores and e-commerce versus its wholesale channels, which includes franchises. Global revenue for 2018 was 22.8 billion Danish kroner, including $768 million in the U.S.
“In the U.S., the brand tends to skew a little higher in wholesale, ” Keswani said, landing around 60 percent. Some of the brand’s larger wholesale accounts are multibrand stores Ben Bridge Jeweler and Jared.
According to Keswani, the retail concept will provide the brand with powerful data over the holiday season, and a wider rollout will begin in the late first quarter of 2020, including New York City, Santa Clara, Calif., and Garden City, N.Y., with the goal to convert stores that rank all over the volume spectrum to “better understand their retail landscape.”
The refurbishing project will continue into early 2021.
“We’re seeing more traffic come through the doors,” Keswani said of the re-branding’s early data. “People are spending more time in the store, which drives conversation and ability to buy.”