Natural-Diamond Trade Hits Back at Pandora

Pandora jewelry, synthetic diamonds

Leading trade organizations have lashed out at Pandora’s recent statements about lab-grown stones, claiming the retailer misrepresented natural diamonds and caused harm to the industry.

Pandora announced it would no longer sell mined diamonds and would instead stock synthetics, linking the decision to its environmental goals. The launch of a lab-grown line will help “transform the market for diamond jewelry with affordable, sustainably created products,” the Danish jeweler asserted last week.

Pandora’s proclamation wrongly positioned lab-grown as an “ethical choice versus natural diamonds,” five jewelry groups said in a joint statement Friday. The signatories were the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), the Natural Diamond Council (NDC), the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO), the World Diamond Council (WDC) and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA).

The diamond industry employs tens of millions of people around the world, the organizations pointed out. The communities that benefit from the sector need its support “more than ever” given the hardship resulting from Covid-19, they added.

“The misleading narrative created by the Pandora announcement implying the natural-diamond industry is…less ethical and the impetus behind Pandora’s move to lab-grown diamonds, particularly given the inconsequential [quantity] of diamonds Pandora features in its collections, can have unintended but substantial consequences on communities in developing nations,” the groups said. “The industry organizations have called upon Pandora to support communities by correcting the record.”

Pandora used mined diamonds in about 50,000 of the 85 million pieces it created in 2020, it said.

Pandora was not immediately available for comment.


Pandora Taps Lab-Grown, Drops Mined Diamonds

Pandora has launched its first lab-grown jewelry line
Pandora Lab-Grown Diamonds

Pandora has launched its first lab-grown jewelry line and pledged to cease using mined diamonds in any of the company’s pieces.

The Danish jeweler will introduce the collection, Pandora Brilliance, in the UK on May 6, before debuting it globally in 2022, it said Tuesday. Pandora believes offering synthetics will make its products more accessible to a wider audience looking for more affordable and sustainable diamond jewelry, it explained.

“Pandora continues its quest to make incredible jewelry available for more people,” said Pandora CEO Alexander Lacik. “[Pandora Brilliance] is a new collection of beautifully designed jewelry featuring lab-created diamonds. They are as much a symbol of innovation and progress as they are of enduring beauty and stand as a testament to our ongoing and ambitious sustainability agenda. Diamonds are not only forever, but for everyone.”

As part of its effort to be carbon-neutral, Pandora will use synthetic diamonds that have been grown with more than 60% renewable energy. The jeweler expects to use stones made using 100% renewable energy by the time it launches the line globally, it noted.

The new collection includes rings, bangles, necklaces and earrings, each featuring a single lab-grown diamond ranging from 0.15 to 1 carat, with prices starting at GBP 250 ($347), Pandora added.


Pandora in the Red as China Market Slows

Pandora store in HK

Pandora reported a loss in the first quarter following global store shutdowns amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The company posted a loss of DKK 24 million ($3.5 million), compared with a profit of DKK 797 million ($115.8 million) the previous year, the Danish charm maker said Tuesday. The loss was driven by the global shutdown of all the company’s stores during the period as the COVID-19 pandemic spread, particularly in China.

“The Chinese market was in many ways challenging for Pandora in [the first quarter],” the company noted. “Pandora started to close physical stores due to COVID-19 from late January, and the logistics of the online channel were also disrupted.”

Global sales fell 13% year on year to DKK 4.17 billion ($606.1 million) for the January-to-March period, the Danish charm maker reported Tuesday. Revenue in the US slipped 7% in local currency to DKK 935 million ($135.8 million), while sales in China plunged 61% to DKK 212 million ($30.8 million) in local-currency terms.

Prior to the closures, the company saw positive growth in the first two months of the year in key markets including the US, the UK, Italy, France and Germany. Total revenue was up 1% for January and February, as consumers responded to the company’s new brand marketing.

Online sales were also strong, primarily during the lockdown period, growing 29%, Pandora said. The online channel grew by triple-digit rates in April.

Sales have improved since the end of the quarter, as stores began to reopen, the company noted. Although markets in China reopened in March, traffic was still weak, but demand strengthened “substantially” in April.

“Traffic into the stores is gradually improving and is getting closer to a normalized level,” Pandora said. The company has hired a new general manager for the region to help turn around performance and establish Pandora as a “unique and well-known brand” in China. The jeweler has also begun to reopen stores in Germany.

Pandora is preparing a number of commercial initiatives it plans to roll out as soon as the market situation strengthens.

“The group is now preparing for the recovery after the pandemic, and our strong performance in January and February makes us confident in the underlying brand momentum,” said Pandora CEO Alexander Lacik. “We have implemented cost and cash initiatives to ensure that we have the necessary financial strength for a strong commercial comeback when demand starts normalizing.”

The company will not issue financial guidance for 2020 until the market stabilizes and it can provide meaningful information, it noted.


Pandora to Slash 180 Jobs in Restructuring

Pandora jewelry

Pandora is embarking on a major streamlining process aimed at speeding up its ability to act on customer feedback, the jeweler said Wednesday.

The Danish company will close its three regional offices — management centers that oversee stores in specific parts of the world — to eliminate a layer between upper management and customers, it noted. It will cut 180 workers as a result.

“[This] brings our global headquarters closer to our local markets and consumers, and ensures that feedback from consumers can more quickly fuel new concept creations,” noted Pandora CEO Alexander Lacik. “The reorganization will reduce organizational complexity, enable Pandora to execute with more speed and agility, and add critical capabilities required to support growth.”

Pandora will group its market areas into 10 clusters, each of which will be headed by a general manager who is based in the largest market within that cluster. All general managers will report to a newly hired chief commercial officer, whose identity the company will disclose shortly.

The jeweler will also establish two global business units that will oversee all products, which it believes will offer a more consistent marketing message and consumer experience, it said. One unit will be responsible for core products, including its Moments collection, charms and collaborations, while the second will drive newer product categories and innovations. The units will report to chief marketing officer Carla Liuni.

Additionally, as part of the new restructuring, three regional presidents will step down from the executive team. The new system will take effect April 2.


Pandora Cuts 1,200 Jobs as Sales Drop

Pandora jewellery

Pandora will push ahead with a total overhaul of its business, after sales weakened in the first quarter.

Global sales fell 6% year on year to DKK 4.8 billion ($720.5 million) for the January to March period, the Danish charm maker reported Tuesday. Revenue in the US slipped 12% in local currency to DKK 977 million ($146.5 million), while sales in China rose 15% to DKK 548 million ($82.2 million). Global net profit declined 31% to DKK 797 million ($119.5 million).

The company plans to lay off approximately 1,200 employees at its Thailand manufacturing facility. Those cuts are in addition to the 700 workers it dismissed from the factory in February. It will also reduce some workers’ hours, aiming to save a combined DKK 600 million ($90 million) in 2019.

Pandora attributed the weak first quarter performance to its unsuccessful consumer and marketing strategies. As part of a transformation, the company will offer fewer discount promotions, reduce its inventory, and minimize the design variations it carries in stores.

Additionally, the retailer plans to increase its marketing in certain countries, including the UK, Italy and China, to reach consumers more effectively. The campaigns will be consolidated through one advertising agency, which will provide Pandora with a clear brand, it said. The company has also recently launched new campaigns featuring celebrities and influencers.

The strategy shift, which began in the first quarter, “is progressing rapidly, and is creating a real transformation of our business, culture and organization,” said Anders Boyer, Pandora’s chief financial officer. “As expected, the first quarter was characterized by continued weak like-for-like [figures], further burdened by our deliberate commercial reset.”

During the quarter, the company opened a net eight concept stores, down from 39 in the same period last year. It plans to close 50 stores that were not making profits. Pandora expects sales to fall 3% to 7% this year, it said.


Pandora to Slash Nearly 400 Jobs

Pandora jewellery

Pandora plans to lay off 397 employees after disappointing second quarter results and a weakened outlook for the rest of the year.

While sales grew 4% in local currencies to $748.2 million (DKK 4.82 billion) for the quarter, the retailer lowered its revenue guidance for the year to an increase of 4% to 7%, from its previous forecast of 7% to 10%. It also expects lower profit margins, after that measure declined in the second quarter, it said Monday. The company’s stock price was down 21% at press time Tuesday.

Streamlining the business will help Pandora’s financial performance by reducing complexity and shifting resources to strategic priorities such as digital and e-commerce sales, CEO Anders Colding Friis explained in a separate statement Tuesday. Pandora has nearly doubled in size in the past three years, with new organizational practices emerging in different parts of the company, the executive added. The changes will reduce costs by about $23.3 million (DKK 150 million) per year, the company said.

“The adjustments are…necessary to protect our profitability,” Colding Friis said. “Sadly, the changes mean that good employees will lose their jobs, and we are supporting them in the best possible way.”

Of the layoffs, 218 will be in Thailand, where Pandora employs 13,000 people, including 5,000 at a new manufacturing center it unveiled in June. The company’s global workforce numbers 27,000.

Pandora has suffered from weak demand for its products in the US, as well as competition from unauthorized traders in the Asia Pacific region. Last month, it said it had reduced retail prices in China to combat the grey market, in which other companies sell its products without a license.

Meanwhile, Pandora has appointed Sid Keswani as president for the Americas. Keswani is a former CEO of grocery store chain Fiesta Mart, and replaces Scott Burger, who left the company in January. He will begin on August 13, reporting directly to the CEO.

Pandora will release its full results for the second quarter on August 9.