Ti Sento – Milano managing director, Arjan van Zuylen, discusses with Professional Jeweller editor, Stacey Hailes, the brand’s plans for growth in the UK market, the launch of a partnership programme and what he looks for in a retail partner.
Professional Jeweller: How has business been for TI SENTO – Milano so far this year?
Arjan van Zuylen: We have had a very good start of the year, the new direction we have taken the brand and our plans have been received well. Also, our newest SS17 collection has been very well received, bringing new colours of light pink with rosé gold as well as the new concept of double ear charms.
PJ: How important is the UK market to TI SENTO – Milano? Where does it sit for the brand compared to other markets?
AZ: The UK is our second most important market and will remain one of our focus countries for future growth, as the UK is of course the largest real jewellery market in Europe. Our sterling silver jewellery collection is particularly very well positioned in breath of range and value for money for this market.
PJ: How do you plan to take the TI SENTO – Milano brand to the next level?
AZ: In the UK, we would take the brand to the next level by taking three steps, in line with our strategy. Number one, we will continue to roll out our already proven Partnership Program with retailers. Secondly, we will build our brand for today’s consumer – both off and online. We are currently in the transition towards digitalising our offer. Thirdly, we are growing our footprint by keeping a focus on opening new business.
PJ: What are the biggest challenges for a jewellery brand to make a business profitable in today’s market?
AZ: This would be for me the changing consumer behaviour in terms of digitalisation and personalisation, to the point of a future expectation of a one-off offer. And of course the increasing pressure on the existing independent channel.
PJ: What’s your focus for the UK market this year?
AZ: We have a great brand story to tell. Offline and online it is important to be active in storytelling to create and keep a returning consumer base. We want to get closer to our current and future partners. We have launched our Partnership Programme in several markets now with great success. We want to launch the programme this year in the UK. Following on from this, we are aiming for continued new business growth in both independents, multiples and though online partners.
PJ: What do you look for in a retail partner?
AZ: TI SENTO – Milano is looking to strengthen its distribution, focusing on both our existing and potential new partners. We look for partners with the right product environment, in-store traffic and service of course, but in addition we appreciate partners with an open mind in the sense of working together in sharing data, understanding their business well in terms of assortment management, stock turn and working capital issues. For existing partners, our focus is on contributing to the performance through our programs and our spot-on collection. Whereas for new partners, we want to set the ground for a long term cooperation, especially those open to our innovative ways of working.
PJ: How do you help retailers once they come into partnership with you?
AZ: Through our special Partnership Programme, we advise our partners on the right assortment. We take care of the replenishment (naturally within a pre-agreed budget), support with monthly merchandising planograms in line with our TI SENTO commercial retail calendar and also support our customers in returns. To us, in partnership, we as well as our retailer partner take a shared entrepreneurial risk. We have tested and optimised this Partnership Programme with multiple customers in various locations over the last two years. The outcome has invariably been a significant growth of store turnover – up to 40% growth – with a decrease in stock position at the same time! We are now ready to start this programme in the UK.
PJ: Where would you like to see TI SENTO – Milano by the end of this year?
AZ: We are looking to open new doors at a rate of 50 a year. We expect to have a growth in sell out to our existing customers of 15%. As we will be launching the Partnership Programme in the UK market this year, we aim for a successful roll-out with proven active partnerships by the end of the year. And finally, of course we want to increase our consumers brand awareness with our new brand campaign ‘Gestures’, developed in close cooperation with our Milanese advertising agency: ‘The art of being a woman.’