Mike Parsell, CEO of Brisbane, Australia-based Michael Hill Jeweler, which is in the process of buying 17 stores from Whitehall, very generously took some time to speak with me while “in transit” last night. Highlights follow:
Why did you decide to purchase the stores from Whitehall?
There are some similarities in our models. The sizes of the stores, in terms of the actual area, are similar. The product ranges are very similar. We have a little more of a diamond focus but the concepts are similar.
To get a concentration of 17 stores in one area [Illinois and Missouri] gives you a scale of economy.
Do you plan to buy any more?
We’ll certainly look at things. But it is in our interest to hold steady with 17 stores. It’s still early days.
In the short- to medium-term we are going to refurbish most of the stores, and work through product requirements. There is a fair bit of work to do, but we are very excited.
How would you describe your store’s selection?
We are generally mid-range, but with some high-end merchandise as well. For example, we have our own branded watches.
Are you going to try reproduce what you are doing overseas here?
Yes, the brand will be consistent with what we are doing in other markets.
You are doing this during tough economic times in the U.S.
The economy is obviously not that well at the moment. But it’s also the reason we were offered the opportunity to get the type of property we’ve been able to secure.
Thank you, Mr. Parsell. If this analysis is any indication, people are excited about Michael Hill coming here and expect good things from them.