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New CEO’s Three-Part Plan for Reviving Signet

Gina Drosos hopes her ‘customer first’ and omni-channel strategies will reverse the jeweler’s recent downtrend.

Feb 8, 2018 4:44 AM   By John Costello
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RAPAPORT... Times have not been good for Signet Jewelers. A decidedly disappointing holiday season saw same-store sales slide by 5.3%. This followed a 4.6% drop in 2016. Add to this poor performance the sexual harassment and discrimination allegations that have hounded the retail giant, and a share price that slumped 30% over the past year, and it becomes apparent that 2017 was a cocktail of catastrophe for the jeweler.

Despite the gloom, Signet’s new CEO, Gina Drosos (pictured), appears confident she has what it takes to stop the retailer’s freefall.

“The last couple of years have been disappointing,” she says frankly, sitting in a suite in the plush London NYC hotel in midtown Manhattan. “Now we need to have our fingers on the pulse of what customers really want.”

The millennial market

Drosos, who was appointed in July, is banking on three strategic imperatives to transform Signet, the first of which is “customer first.” And her message to customers is that Signet is listening. This, she believes, will put Signet in a prime position when it comes to wooing millennials — the most sought-after, yet misunderstood, consumer segment.

“We are really spending much more time understanding relationships and what is important to our millennial consumers,” she says. “And what we know from that is that millennial consumers don’t see the kind of sequential relationships that their parents had as being necessary. So while their parents may have met, dated, gotten engaged, gotten married, then moved in together and then had kids, millennials see that as being able to happen in a much more fluid way. So what’s important for us to do is recognize that and to be able to help them have jewelry to be able to celebrate many of those different milestones along their journey.”

And like night follows day, “customer first” feeds directly into the second pillar of Drosos’s strategy: omni-channel.

“We know that most customers who are making a jewelry purchase start their omni-channel journey online, and they end that journey in the store,” she says. “We want to be part of that seamless journey every step of the way. In holiday 2016, when customers visited our websites, only about 3% of the time did they get a unique view based on everything that we know about [their previous visits] — what they are shopping for, what they want and need.” In holiday 2017, she says, that number went up to 30%.

Success story

In order to implement this customer-centric, omni-channel approach, Drosos will be drawing on a deep well of past success.

“I spent 25 years at the Procter & Gamble company,” she says. “I was part of a team of people who built up a beauty company inside that soap and diaper company to become the biggest beauty company in the world. And we did that through understanding what customers wanted and needed by reinventing brands that had become tired or outdated or weren’t as relevant to customers as they could have been, and by bringing new and innovative products and experience to customers. I think many of those same things apply to Signet, where we have an opportunity to take the lead and drive industry growth by putting customers first and bringing new innovation.”

That’s where her third strategy comes in. The company has implemented a new organizational model, moving away from a “functionally led structure” to one of “single-point accountability” to drive the success of each Signet brand.

“We have created within our company what we are calling the innovation engine. Because of our size, we have the capability to do more market research than any other company to understand customers even better, so we are creating a creative process to have a funnel of great ideas that get screened very quickly and that get developed very quickly in the right way and can come through to the marketplace,” she says.

“And then, once we bring great ideas to the marketplace, we are looking at how we drive the longevity of those great ideas,” she continues. “There’s definitely an opportunity for us to improve both the quantity and excitement of new ideas that we are bringing based on consumer desire, but also to extend the life of some of those innovations by continuing to innovate and delight customers over time.”

Drosos is hoping three is the magic number that will drive the success of her strategy. With any luck, it will be the three-pronged plan she’s laid out, and not a third year of negative sales figures for the company she’s trying to revive.

This article was first published in the February issue of Rapaport Magazine.
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Tags: Gina Drosos, Jewelry, John Costello, Omni-channel, Procter & Gamble, Rapaport News, retail, Signet, Signet Jewelers
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