EXCLUSIVE: Pandora UK president rebuffs criticisms

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Business in the UK has out-performed the market says Peter Andersen.

Pandora UK’s president, Peter Andersen, has defended the jewellery brand’s performance and suggested that the current storm surrounding the company is blown wildly out of proportion.

News from Denmark this week, that Pandora’s sales growth for 2011 would be zero, rather than the 30 percent previously predicted, sent the company’s shares into freefall and forced its CEO to resign.

Pandora’s chairman, Alan Leighton, called the results “totally unacceptable,” and “largely self-inflicted”.

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A trading statement from Pandora stated that: “In the UK, the trading environment continued to be challenging in Q2 2011, resulting in weak like-for-like sales performance for many retailers. In this difficult environment our revenue in the UK decreased by 13.1% as result of declining same store sales.”

Mr. Andersen concedes it has been tough on high street in the UK. “We are not achieving budgets, but still performing well compared to others,” he says.

A wave of protest has threatened to engulf Pandora in the UK, led, according to Mr. Andersen, by jewellers that are no longer customers of the brand. “We are a successful brand that treats independent jewellers in a decent way,” he asserts. “It is ex-customers that we no longer wanted to deal with that are complaining,” he adds.

Just over 50 independent jewellers in the UK are already running 78 franchised Pandora stores, and these are the silent majority that have been successful with the brand, Mr. Andersen suggests. Jewellers that moved up the partnership tiers from silver to gold to shop-in-shop to full franchises are the companies that have shared in the company’s success, he adds.

Comments on Professionaljeweller.com were mixed yesterday. ‘Wes’ pointed out that:” Pandora has given a lot of jewellers the gift of retailing. Can anyone really put a price on that? How many consumers are buying diamonds and gold? Pandora has kept traffic through stores. Invaluable!”

But ‘Joe’ disagreed, stating: “Pandora as an idea is faultless. Unfortunately, their business mind and the way they conduct themselves is riddled with faults. They have used big boy bully tack ticks [sic] and even in this air of uncertainty refuse to listen to their customers.”

Mr. Andersen concedes that the company could have done a better job at getting its message across, but rebuffed suggestions that it did not respond to customer needs. On the contentious issue of selling packages of product, rather than just the popular Pandora beads, he says that it was an important tactic to start moving the brand forward beyond just a bead brand.

He reveals that customers were entitled to return unsold stock on two occasions this year, although he concedes that Pandora did not issue no-quibble, money-back guarantees on all items that it sold to jewellers. “It was the slow-movers we offered to remove,” he clarifies.

The company is looking forward to a successful Christmas in UK, Mr. Andersen says. “We showed the autumn/winter collection to customers and the press over the past month and the feedback has been really positive. We had to close down the intake of new accounts in the UK while we refilled our warehouse, but I am sure we will start taking on new accounts soon,” he concludes.

 

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