Can you give us some background on the company?
I started the company in 2003 and worked as a sales manager in Denmark. The original brand, along with my business partner, was called Kranz & Ziegler. My business partner left the company after three years because of poor health. By 2007 I was working on a little brand for bracelets. The initial work was to do with some charms, and I couldn’t figure out how to get it to work. By coincidence, I finally came upon a design the worked, and got the clasp properly designed. I then got it manufactured by a German company, and after that the brand – STORY – went on sale, and it took off immediately.
Tell us a bit about the evolution of the range
To begin with it was just a black bracelet, with 15 or 20 different charms. Now it has moved into snakeskin and into silk, and gradually there was more and more material added to the range. It became quite a big line and multi-functional in Denmark, where there are around 300 different elements available in the range if you include all the charms and all the different variations of the bracelet itself. They are so different but they can be combined, so you can make variations from rock chick to glamour girl, dress up or dress down.
What is your retail footprint in the UK?
We’ve been working on the UK market for quite some time. It is difficult to make a breakthrough in this mature market if you do not have a lot of marketing budget. But we are confident in our brand, as in Denmark, in the stores which stock STORY, they have told me that they have sold more of our lines than Pandora’s over the last four Christmases. In the UK, we currently have 220 stockists. We started about three years ago here, and some stores are successful, others are not. STORY requires maintenance – if you don’t do it right, it won’t work. We have the official merchandise in Denmark which is something we’re working hard on bringing to the UK.
What about your footprint in Europe?
In Denmark we have 260 stores – and this is in a small country of only around five million people. In Sweden it is growing very fast, where we have about 150 doors.
What is your personal involvement in the business at the moment?
I don’t do the sales on a daily basis, but I haven’t been on the road for five years, and at the moment I have a rep in Denmark who is on maternity leave, so I thought I would get out there to get some feedback. As my job more generally though, I do product development and design.
How many people work for the business?
In Denmark we are about 80 people, in the UK we are four or five. Turnover in Denmark is about £20m. For the last three years we have been growing rapidly.
Who are you in competition with?
I think we are mainly in competition with Endless Jewelry. Jesper Nielsen is my biggest competitor.
Where do you want to be in three years time?
I want much more success in the UK. I want at least 500 doors there. And I want merchandise to be throughout the shops, because that really helps sell the product. We have many successful retailers in the UK, but still we have a few who could do better. We will try to do more to help them in training.
To see some of the jewellery in the range, visit: http://www.k-z.dk/global