Pandora UK’s new managing director, Kate Walsh, is passionate about working closer with franchise partners, and welcomes the news that the brand will now be slowing down its acquisition activity.
In an exclusive interview with Professional Jeweller, the new boss stressed that franchise partners are still extremely important to the business.
In fact, when you break down the numbers, franchise stores still make up half of Pandora’s retail network in the UK which is currently split as 126 owned and operated stores, and 108 franchise stores.
“We’ve still got a significant number of franchise stores,” says Walsh, adding: “If you look at the number of stores, franchise stores still make up almost 50% of our store count, so its a significant part of our business, and I am really happy with the announcement that we are going to significantly slow down on the acquisition activity that has been going on.”
Many Pandora partners would have already known Walsh well given that prior to taking on the managing director of Northern Europe role she worked as vice president of retail for Pandora UK.
In her VP retail role, she is credited with driving revenue among its UK concept store network and played a key role in delivering retail training and visual merchandising to optimise the UK consumer’s in-store experience and consistency of brand and excellence in retail execution.
“I always had a very good collaboration with the franchise partners, and I have got to say when I came in as vice president of retail in the UK we had five O&O stores that increased to 10, and I learnt how to run Pandora concept stores from our partners,” shares Walsh: “The team and I went out and looked at different partners because we wanted to find the good stuff that they were doing and elevate that in our O&O stores. So I learnt how to run Pandora stores in the best way from all of our franchise partners.”
She continues: “They are a very important part of our business and part of my journey, and I can imagine that with it being such a busy year on acquisitions it could have been quite uncertain, but we have the opportunity now to focus on running what we have in collaboration with our franchise partners and that’s really exciting. So it’s been nice to come back to that announcement to give me and our franchise partners the peace of mind that we can really look at in 2019 how we can strive to be better franchise partners.”
Walsh has already met with the UK’s franchise partners and plans to gather them together again early next year.
“Despite the fact we have been busy and maybe not spent as much time with our franchise partners this year they are still super engaged, super passionate, love Pandora, love the product, love the opportunity they have had to work with the brand, and really want to contribute,” adds Walsh.