Retailer News

JEWELRY IN CYBERSPACE

Steve Quick is on the edge. The cutting edge of jewelry marketing, that is. His eight-year-old gallery in Chicago, Steve Quick Jewelers, now offers merchandise through the Internet global computer network.

The gallery features estate jewelry and custom pieces from award-winning designers such as George Sawyer, Anthony Girard and Lapponia. Quick says the best pieces are photographed, digitized in a CD-ROM format and placed on the Internet network for viewing on personal computers. Consumers may order directly through the “net” or by calling the gallery’s toll-free telephone number. Quick will send jewelry on approval after verifying a customer’s credit.

Quick sees his venture into cyberspace as more than a selling tool. He also maintains an on-line information center that supplies users with diamond buying information.

Quick, a graduate of the Gemological Institute of America, freely admits to a limited knowledge of computer technology. But through ElectricChicago, a network that provides Internet access to entrepreneurs, he can reach millions of potential customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Since he went on Internet this past fall, Quick has been “pleasantly surprised” by the response. He describes Internet users as “very interesting people from extremely diverse backgrounds.” As new subscribers join the Internet, Quick’s store will be there to fill their need for distinctive jewelry.

Global audience: “Internet has more than 20 million users worldwide,” says Brian Mansfield, owner of ElectricChicago. “It has no single governing body, rather it comprises many independent networks scattered over 50 countries.”

ElectricChicago is one of those networks. Mansfield describes it as “an interactive electronic storefront… where you can roam from room to room [electronically, of course], viewing images and hearings sounds of whatever might interest you.” His network, for example, also includes an art gallery featuring the work of Howard Finster and a silkscreen design studio that produces high-end fashionwear.

ElectricChicago and other participating networks reach a global audience through Internet’s World Wide Web, a two-year-old feature through which users can send and receive images, sounds and video that can be displayed on personal computers.

To view images, you need one of several software packages; ElectricChicago recommends the Mosaic package. Users also must have SLIP (serial line internet protocol) or a direct connection to the Internet.

For information, contact Brian Mansfield of ElectricChicago at (312) 296-6623. Steve Quick Jewelers is located at 2464 Clark St., Chicago, Ill. 60614; (800) 404-0058 or (312) 404-0034. To contact the gallery on the Internet, dial http://www.Echi.com/

FRIEDMAN’S ANNOUNCES RECORD RESULTS FOR 1994

Friedman’s Inc., Savannah, Ga., one of the fastest growing jewelry chains in the U.S., announced record results for the fiscal quarter and year ended Sept. 30.

For the year, net merchandise sales totaled a record $75.5 million, up 59% from $47.4 million in fiscal 1993. Total revenue was $85.3 million, up 61% from $53.1 million. Net income totaled $5.9 million, up more than 300% from the $1.3 million reported the previous year. Per-share earnings were 63¢, up from 23¢.

For just the fourth quarter, net merchandise sales totaled $16 million, up 70% from $9.4 million in the same period of fiscal 1993. Total revenue was $5.1 million, up 4% from $4.9 million. Net income was $348,000, compared with a net loss of $718,000. Per share earnings were 4¢, compared with a 13¢ loss.

“We began fiscal 1994 with certain key objectives,” says Bradley J. Stinn, president and chief executive officer. “Those included: improving our overall market share, continuing our `power strip’ center expansion program and maintaining strict cost control disciplines. In each, we made significant progress.”

During the year, the company opened 56 new stores. “Despite the rapid growth, we improved operating margins to 18.3% of revenues in fiscal 1994, from 17.8% in fiscal 1993.”

The firm ended the fiscal 1994 with 141 stores, most of them in power strip shopping centers, and plans to open 40-60 more this year.

LEADING JEWELERS UNVEILS MARKETING, MAIL PROGRAMS

The Leading Jewelers Guild unveiled several new services and benefits at its 36th annual meeting, held recently in Newport Beach, Cal.

A new list-and-mail service, designed for use with the organization’s computer catalog of merchandise, is designed to help members reach a higher percentage of potential customers while reducing postage and mailing costs, says Gary Meyer of Alan & Gary’s Jewelers, Torrence, Cal.

In addition, the organization presented 17 new marketing programs. “From remount events to preferred customer promotions, we’ve got all bases covered,” says John Jensen of Jensen Jewelers, Twin Falls, Idaho.

A trade show held in conjunction with the meeting featured most vendors involved in the organization’s catalog program. The event also featured a business agenda and social events, including a dinner cruise from Newport Harbor.

The Leading Jewelers Guild, founded in 1958, is a cooperative of family-owned retail credit jewelers. Its shareholder-members represent 185 stores coast to coast and in Hawaii. The executive offices conduct year-round merchandising, marketing and advertising operations. Leading Jewelers Guild, 2050 S. Bundy Dr., Suite 210, Los Angeles, Cal. 90025; (310) 820-3386, fax (310) 820-3530.

CARLYLE ACQUIRES LaVAKE

Carlyle & Co. Jewelers, headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., has acquired LaVake, an upscale jewelry store in Princeton, N.J. Under the new management, LaVake will expand its line of designer jewelry and gifts. LaVake will continue to offer a full-service bridal registry, as well as stationery, corporate gift and repair departments. In addition to LaVake, Carlyle & Co. owns and operates J.E. Caldwell & Co., founded in Philadelphia in 1839. J.E. Caldwell’s flagship store is located in Center City Philadelphia at Juniper and Chestnuts Streets. Privately-owned by a third-generation jewelry family, Carlyle & Co. operates a total of 83 jewelry stores in the Northeast and Southeast.

2ND GOLD SYMPOSIUM TARGETS DISCOUNTERS

Senior executives from 19 leading jewelry outlets attended the 1994 Gold Symposium, hosted by the World Council and Leach & Garner. This was the second annual business forum dedicated to helping North American “non-traditional” gold jewelry retailers continue what WGC calls “their extraordinary gold jewelry sales momentum.”

Represented at the symposium were Wal-Mart, Kmart, Caldor Inc., Hill’s Department Stores, Ames and Target from the discount sector; QVC and Home Shopping Network from the electronic sector; Consumer Distributing (Canada), Service Merchandise Inc. and L. Luria & Sons from the catalog showroom sector; Diamond Park Fine Jewelry, Finlay Fine Jewelry and Macy’s from the department store sector; and Sears and Montgomery Ward from the mass merchandise sector. Also attending were Fingerhut Cos. Inc., Spencer Gifts and Army & Air Force Exchange.

These 19 entities together generated $3 billion in 1993 gold jewelry retail sales. And they continue to outpace all other channels, reports the World Gold Council, with first-half 1994 sales up 14% over the same period of 1993 (which itself was up nearly 30% from the previous year).

A number of symposium sessions discussed adding value to meet changing customer demands. Sessions that focused specifically on adding value to gold jewelry retail sales discussed innovative practices such as new methods of inventory financing and the opportunity for branding gold.

The symposium was held Oct. 17-19 in Providence, R.I. In addition to the two hosts, sponsors included Rhode Island Hospital Trust, Andin International, Aurafin, Jacmel Jewelry, Michael Anthony Jewelers, Princess Pride Creations and Town & Country Fine Jewelry Group.