Following the announcement that Smyth Jewelers is taking over the day-to-day operations of Bailey Banks & Biddle, Smyth’s chief operating officer, John Jackson, who will fulfill the same role at the new Bailey Banks, very generously took some time to speak to JCK today:
How will the new Baileys operate in relation to Smyth?
Bailey Banks will operate as it always has. Smyth has been hired to be the management group. We will take care of all the field operations, procurement of merchandise, and administration. Our goal is to take what makes Smyth successful and then provide economies to the Bailey group.
Will the two stores operate in the same office?
The long-term goal is to transition the office. That will provide the economies that will return us to profitability. Having the office to support the nine stores was too expensive.
There are still some very good people at Bailey and we are going to do our best to retain them. It is our intent to maintain continuity.
What role will Smyth have in the direction of the company?
Smyth has been hired to manage Bailey Banks & Biddle Group. It is two separate companies. Under Smyth’s stewardship, will some philosophies change? We view the stores as the most important part of our universe. We never want to feel like we are a chain. We want to feel like every store is an independent. That is what made us successful.
Do you still envision a 50-store chain for Bailey?
The bottom line is, first, you have to get the ship righted. I don’t know if we would use the number 50 but expansion is part of this growth plan. We are just a week into this, so it’s too early for me to commit to future growth.
Will Bailey keep its current “clicks and bricks” format, with the big TV screens?
We are a big believer in clicks and bricks. With Bailey, we want to emphasize the “bricks.” We may depart a little bit from the [current] concept. We want to build what our customers are used to.
So will the formats change?
Going forward we have the existing formats. We will keep them in place. In the future we will bring down the footprint, and not make them as large as a Bailey store is.
Will Bailey still have an outlet division?
There are no plans to change any of the current structure. We may change the advertising and the position within the marketplace. We are not an outlet company but we need to explore what makes it work and what best serves the outlet marketplace.
What is your impression as the consumer perception of the Bailey brand? It turns 180 this year.
One of the things that we need to get out here is that we are that old. We are a trusted name. Some consumers remember the name. Some remember the bankruptcy. We will do everything we can to restore the good will of the name. Our store staffs are committed to that. We are doing everything we can to restore the Bailey Banks name to its former prestige.
What do you see as the strengths and weakness of the current business?
There are different approaches to every business. We did our due diligence. There are some things we may change but nothing that is not workable.
Anything else you want people to know about your future plans?
One nice thing about the old Bailey Banks is that it was based on trust and commitment and value. Smyth is a family business, and at one time Bailey Banks was a family business, and we want to get back to that. We may be a chain but we want to think like a family business.