FEATURE: Trollbeads MD Pam Aujla talks plans to grow in the UK

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New managing director Pam Aujla talks to Professional Jeweller about her plans to push Trollbeads in the UK and make the brand more globally recognised.

Danish jewellery brand Trollbeads started its story in Denmark in 1976, offering customers a small bead decorated with six troll faces. Jump forward to 2015 and Trollbeads is now an internationally recognised charm and bead superbrand with an army of loyal fans.

Trollbeads is now in over 50 markets, with success particularly in Denmark and other European countries. The past 12 months though has seen the brand really push into the UK market, with a new shop-in-shop concept rolled out across 20 stores in the summer of 2014. Later, in November, the brand also opened its first concept store in Cambridge as part of a nationwide expansion strategy.

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Now Trollbeads UK Ltd has a new managing director on board who is aiming to propel the brand forward and encourage more UK consumers to interact with its buildable and composeable brand concept. Pamela Aujla joined the team in April this year. Before embarking on the Trollbeads adventure, Aujla held the position of chief operating of- ficer for Six3.tv, global brand director for Lego and trading director for what is now the Shop Direct Group.

Although Aujla comments that for her it is always about the business, not the product, the way she plays with a Trollbeads bangle on her wrist makes it clear that she has fallen in love with the brand’s jewellery.

With ambitions to become a much larger global brand and a staple for jewellery lovers in the UK, Aujla’s role is to look at where Trollbeads is now and see where it can grow in the future. When asked how she plans to grow the UK business Aujla answers: “For me it is not all of one or all of another thing, it really is a combination. We have such a wide, diverse range of consumers, some things appeal to some parts of one consumer data base and other things appeal to others.

“I think one of our biggest challenges is brand awareness. People will see the jewellery and say ‘that’s gorgeous’, but they won’t instantly recognise the brand name.

“It’s excellent quality and the people who know it know it really well — they are real advocates for collecting the different beads and the different elements of the brand. But the people who don’t know it, don’t know it — and that’s the challenge. How do you communicate the jewellery?”

Aujla admits this is a problem that will take time and education. It won’t be a quick click-of-the-finger fix, but something Trollbeads will have to really invest in. The brand has started by educating its retail partners and store staff, to be followed by a more comprehensive training and e-learning package to help those who sell Trollbeads stay abreast of the latest collections.

Currently Trollbeads has around 300 retail partners across the UK including Beaverbrooks, House of Fraser and John Lewis. With this solid base, Aujla now hopes to increase the brand’s shop-in-shops across the UK in order to allow more consumers access to the Trollbeads state of mind. She explains: “We want to grow our shop-inshops because we do firmly believe that [Trollbeads] is not a brand where you can come in and shop really quickly.”

When looking for shop-in-shop partners Trollbeads take a flexible approach, understanding that all stores have different shapes and spaces to contend with. “We’ve always been a brand that works with people and that’s really important to us because the independent sector is really critical to us. We have to make sure we are listening to what their needs are and how to make their businesses better,” Aujla adds.

Aujla understands more than anyone that it can take time to understand the diversity of the brand. Recalling the time she made her first Trollbeads bracelet purchase, she remarks: “I was going in as a complete novice and didn’t know where to start. It takes time to touch and feel all the different elements and components so it becomes quite personal right from the onset. You don’t just go in and say ‘oh I like that I’ll have that’, you’re actually going in and trying different things on.”

Although Aujla enjoyed her experience, she does admit that Trollbeads would like to make things easier for first time shoppers; ensuring those who have hours to spare or 15 minutes can access the brand and make a purchase.

“This is when the shop -in-shops come in to their own – where you’ve got our own furniture, our own tables and staff trained up,” Aujla adds. The introduction of more ready-towear, completed jewellery pieces is one of the ways the brand will be tackling this accessibility factor. Fortunately, Aujla says these pieces are becoming more popular, noting: “I think it is an easier way to get new customers in — to show them the possibilities, rather than letting them rummage around and put something together. And we find once they have that [a complete piece], they then come back and go ‘oh actually I would quite like another one now’.”

In addition, Trollbeads’ AW15 launch is being described as very ‘new customer friendly’. In particular the new range, which is inspired by magical forests and mythic creatures, offers three jewellery families that include beads, earrings, studs and rings. The new ‘families’, Neverending, Blueberries of Youth and Dragonfly Beauty, will allow customers to buy-in to a particular collection in its entirety for the first time.

“The autumn collection is fantastic,” Aujla beams. “I think it really shows that the brand is moving to a different area. It’s becoming a lot more interchangeable, so a lot more necklaces that you can mix and match.”

Being able to buy a ring, for example, that also has a necklace and earrings to match gives Trollbeads more gifting opportunities, which is perfect for the Christmas period. It is also a great way to get somebody hooked on the brand. “If you give them one element and then they know they can then go and get the bangle or the ring to match, it is quite a nice way of starting the collection,” Aujla adds.

In the mist of discussing the new collection Aujla also explains that Trollbeads has relaunched its X range as a standalone brand.

Instead of X by Trollbeads the brand will now just be called X. The relaunch includes new visuals and fixtures meaning that it can be sold separately from Trollbeads — whether in separate areas of a store or in a store that doesn’t stock Trollbeads at all. Testing and market research also suggests that X sells better when separated from Trollbeads in a retail environment. When asked if the new X range will target a different audience Aujla says: “I don’t think you can say it is a totally different customer; some people like both the different looks and styles, but it needs to have its own identity and that’s what we have done.”

The launch has been heavily backed by a digital campaign. As a company, Trollbeads will be particularly focusing on its online presence this year.

Aujla comments: “Social media was already in place, we’ve just heightened it. We’ve focused a little more on it because that is the way customers are interacting with brands and products and it is important to be part of that.”

The digital feats of the X range have also encouraged Trollbeads to embrace social media in new ways. For example, the brand has recruited bloggers to boost its digital presence, having partnered with popular vlogger Becca Rose to promote the ‘London Gentleman’ bead and leather bracelet from the brand’s City Bead collection in May. This included an online video on YouTube which retailers could show in store.

No matter what the brand does to excel though it won’t stray away from its humble beginnings, with Aujla reassuring us that the beads will always be the core of the business and the most important foundation for growing the business in the right direction.

This feature originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Professional Jeweller. Read it here.


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