Majors

Ben Bridge Is Selling Its Pandora Franchise Stores Back to the Brand

MajorsJan 12, 2022

Ben Bridge Is Selling Its Pandora Franchise Stores Back to the Brand

Plus, a look at how Pandora fared in 2021.

Ben Bridge will return ownership of its 37 Pandora stores to Pandora to focus on its core business. (Image courtesy of Ben Bridge Jeweler's website)
Seattle—Ben Bridge Jeweler is returning ownership of its 37 Pandora stores to the Danish jewelry company, effectively cutting its store count in half as it looks to concentrate on its core business.

The stores will be returned to Pandora in early March, according to a press release about the change of ownership.

“The cornerstone of our business is building customers for life, and that is why we first fell in love with Pandora,” said Ben Bridge CEO Lisa Bridge.

“This has been an important and successful chapter in our history, and we know our team will be in excellent hands as a part of the broader Pandora organization. This pivot will give us greater focus and enable us to innovate and grow in new ways.”

The two companies first teamed up in the spring of 2010.

Today, Ben Bridge’s Pandora store network spans five states as well as British Columbia, Canada. The 110-year-old jeweler is Pandora’s largest franchisee in North America.

Ben Bridge said the sale of its franchise stores back to Pandora will give it time to create even more growth opportunities after marking 2021 as its “most successful” year yet.

It is the second time in recent months Ben Bridge has cut back its store count. Watches of Switzerland acquired Ben Bridge’s Mall of America store outside of Minneapolis-St. Paul, one of five stores the retailer scooped up in late 2021.

Ben Bridge will continue to stock Pandora jewelry in its own stores and on its website.

Pandora has bought back a number of franchise stores in the United States in recent years, including 18 stores across New England run by Laws Management in 2017 and 14 stores previously owned by Hannoush Jewelers in 2014.

Globally, the number of Pandora franchise stores has fallen 18 percent between fiscal 2020 and 2016, while the number of Pandora-owned stores has more than doubled, up 131 percent, in that same period.

In 2016, Pandora operated 2,138 concept stores, including 598 owned by Pandora and 976 owned by franchisees, and had 564 third-party distributors.

By Q4 of fiscal 2020, Pandora operated 2,690 concept stores, including 1,382 owned by Pandora and 797 owned by franchisees, and had 511 third-party distributors.

 Related stories will be right here … 

Prior to Ben Bridge’s announcement, Pandora reported its preliminary annual results, which exceed its fiscal guidance with fourth-quarter and full-year revenue hitting record levels.

Fourth-quarter revenue was up 14 percent year-over-year to 9 billion Danish kroner ($1.37 billion) compared with 7.89 billion kroner ($921.6 million) in the fourth quarter last year, and up 13 percent when compared with Q4 2019.

Full-year revenue was up 23 percent year-over-year to 23.4 billion Danish kroner ($3.57 billion) compared with 19.01 billion Danish kroner ($2.2 billion) in the previous year, and up 7 percent compared with 2019.

In the U.S., quarterly revenue was up 26 percent while full-year revenue was up 55 percent.

Prior to the release of its interim results, a memo from Pandora had predicted that “the unusual strong growth” in the U.S. may “ease off” in the fourth quarter, adding there was uncertainty around overall U.S. market development in 2022. 

“Pandora is confident that whatever direction the overall U.S. market will go in 2022, we believe we have enough ammunition in the plans to perform better than the overall U.S. market, like we have done in 2021,” said the company.

Overall organic growth reached 23 percent, exceeding its guidance of 18 to 20 percent, while the EBIT margin was 25 percent, surpassing its 24 to 24.5 percent guidance.

A low single digit percentage of physical stores were temporarily closed during the fourth quarter due to COVID-19, said Pandora, noting that stores in several of its markets were hurt, particularly in China.

“The recent escalation of COVID-19 continues to drive some uncertainty with regards to financial performance in 2022,” said the company.

Pandora will release its official full-year results on Feb. 9. 
Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.
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