Vice president of Endless International, Brice Pagnuco, discusses the brand’s fate with Professional Jeweller following the announcement that the company has filed for bankruptcy in Germany.
PJ: Before we start the interview, is there anything you would like to share with our readers?
BP: On my behalf, I think that this brand has been huge for us. The market has been demanding, our industry is in need for brands in this category of product and Endless Jewelry is a brand to the industry already. It is known to all jewellers from Taiwan to Colombia, Russia, Middle East and the US, so the potential is huge, even though today we are going under administration.
PJ: What are the next steps for Endless now you have filed for bankruptcy?
BP: This is a question only the administrator will be able to answer. Obviously there are a few solutions on the table, but I have no clue today of what the conclusion of this whole period will be.
PJ: What measures did you take to try and turn the business around?
BP: There was a very profound restructuring programme, which was helped by the actual management. And that has been going on for almost the last six months. So this restructuration made it a safer and sounder business cost wise, but unfortunately today we obviously have not met the goals we should have in order to pursue Endless in the right direction.
PJ: How big was the company at the point of bankruptcy?
BP: The company was present in a bit more than 30 countries, and is today present in those countries around the world in somewhere around 2,000 jewellers.
PJ: Could you talk about what you thought might have gone wrong? Was it solely the ‘right to return’ policy?
BP: That was one of the factors. But obviously by returning these products, the jewellers also in return got the newest products from our collections, and now with the newest products from our collections the jewellers are making better success with these products. The last collections are really successful. At the very moment that we speak the jewellers are selling. Black Friday has seen some tremendous sales, looking at the Christmas period opening now and the campaigns that have already been dropped, in a lot of countries like France for instance, you have the success and the success of the new collection such as the three string products and the multi string, which we have launched in AW16 collections, means sales will for sure beat last year’s result.
We are still delivering and the jewellers are still selling. From this point of view, today it is ongoing business.
Also, the extremely quick opening in a lot of countries and retailers at first, I’m sure you’ve heard about that, and the launch of Endless set a lot of high hopes. Many thought that the success was already there. It generated, from my point of view, a lot of frustration, from the jewellers but also from distributors, and the partners and the investors also. Everyone was already seeing it, at the very moment it started, as a success. But even though the ingredients for success were there and are still here, I think time is key. It’s like in a good recipe, if you have the right ingredients and you follow the recipe, it’s good. But you also have to be very careful about the cooking times. You can’t make a proper cake without respecting cooking times. You have to understand that this brand and this company is no more than three years old, and it has achieved quite a lot of successful results in the three last years. Talking about the 30 and more countries and all these things, but also looking at the quality and the quantity of the people who believe in the brand. Jewellery professionals along with consumers of all age categories are showing really great interest and I think this was and is a guarantee.
PJ: Can you comment on Jesper Nielsen claiming to buy Endless back?
BP: That is something that only the administrator will know. I have no clue.
PJ: Can you explain the bankruptcy process in Germany?
BP: First it’s going under a period of observation, in order for the administration to see what the different options are. That’s a period that can take more or less time. We might have some news coming up today, tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe in a month’s time. But today what is happening actually, is that at the very moment that we speak we are still delivering and the jewellers are still selling. From this point of view, today it is ongoing business.
PJ: Have the staff been effected yet?
BP: All I can say is there are great talents in this company that work for Endless. This is also something that is well done in this company. We have recruited very good, intelligent people. What has already happened in the last six months has been very hard for them, but they really have kept the faith. I admire the team we have for that.