We talk to new CMJ supplier Nomination to find how this globally successful jewellery company retains its family values at the heart of its brand. Read on to find out what it is looking for in partner retailers and what it believes it can bring to your business.
1. Can you give a brief background to the Nomination brand?
The Nomination story begins in 1980s Florence, Italy, when Paolo Gensini created his first Composable bracelet. Paolo’s creation is different from traditional charm bracelets – instead of sliding charms on to a chain, with Composable, you clip the pieces of the bracelet together, piece by piece or, in Composable language, link by link. Each stainless steel link is decorated with a precious symbol in 18ct gold, 9ct rose gold or sterling silver and many are further enhanced with coloured enamel, cubic zirconia or natural gemstones.
The very first Composable links were decorated with 18ct gold Letters, so Paolo named his invention – and the company – Nomination, from the Latin meaning “to give something a name”.
Paolo Gensini’s Composable bracelet revolutionised the jewellery industry thanks to his innovative choice of materials. Paolo wanted to create a precious bracelet that everyone could afford, and this ingenious collection, combining stainless steel with 18ct gold, made that dream a reality.
Nomination grew from strength to strength, adding more decorated links and more jewellery collections as the business grew.
Today, Nomination sells the Composable bracelet in 40 countries around the world alongside an extensive range of fashion jewellery collections in stainless steel and sterling silver.
Paolo’s gold letters remain bestsellers in the Composable collection and the Gensini family – Paolo, with his wife Vittoria and sons Antonio and Alessandro – continue to own and run the business today.
2. How have the past 12 months been for the brand in the UK?
The past 12 months, as for everyone else, have been challenging, but at the same time have served to demonstrate the resilience and sustainability of the brand. As a family business with a strong commitment to their people, suppliers, and community, first the Gensini family ensured the strong foundations of the business as the pandemic hit early near its base in Northern Italy and soon spread to all markets.
2019 had seen the strongest ever performance for the brand in the UK and Ireland, and 2020 had started strongly, so whilst disappointing to lose momentum, the business was very stable. The periods of lockdown both in Italy and in the UK and Ireland have also allowed for some changes to be made in process and to take some time planning for the future. Of course, this planning also had to include how to manage the implications of Brexit.
In line with Nomination’s commitment to family and community, the key focus has been to overcome any hurdles with a focus on supporting the retailers we partner with through having simple and efficient solutions.
3. How have you had to adapt your ways of working with retailers over lockdowns?
During the first period of lockdown, it was clear that demand for Nomination was very strong, with a significant surge in demand online. Many of our retailers hadn’t developed their ecommerce offer for Nomination collections, either due to complexity or not meeting some of our brand criteria. We decided to facilitate more temporary ecommerce agreements, helping retailers create lockdown income streams, from what, in many cases, is their best performing brand. We diverted product deliveries to alternative addresses, extended credit terms and quickly created relevant new product. One of the key USPs of the Composable collection is adaptability, which allowed us to create both product and marketing materials that really spoke to the prevailing situation.
4. What do you believe sets Nomination Italy apart from your competitors?
Fundamentally, Nomination is about people. A family business, still based in the Florence suburb where our founder was brought up, the Composable collection is made by artisans employed by small family businesses that have grown with the brand for many years. The teams at head office have worked with the family for years, and the sales agents that serve the UK and Ireland customers have been working with the company for up to 20 or so years. This personal approach to all aspects of the business also extends to the relationships we have with our partner retailers. Whilst we know the major steps to success, we’re not a dictatorial business, only trying to guide our partners towards a sustainable and rewarding business relationship. Put best by one of our agents, we only suggest things that “will make you more efficient or make you more money”.
Commercially, with our strongest partnerships, we can drive more revenue than almost any other recognised fashion jewellery brand and importantly do so year after year, removing the need for many to switch brands in and out in search of the next “big thing”. There aren’t too many brands out there that can consistently drive £100k+ per year from 0.5m of floor space. With the high revenue opportunities, there are no hidden costs. Mark ups are not diluted by charges for marketing, packaging or POS and the company has elected to support import costs from the centre, not chargeable to our retailers.
As we move through an unstable economic period, we know that the affordable luxury of Nomination collections will make us resilient and sustainable.
5. What are your best-selling collections?
The Nomination Composable collection is at the core of what we do. A stainless steel, collectible, modular bracelet decorated with precious metals for all ages, genders and styles is the modern take on the charm bracelet. Whilst the basics of the bracelet created in the 1980s remain unchanged, the innovation in style and decorative design means this is a collection that will remain at the heart of our business.
In recent years we have introduced fashion collections away from Composable, which meet the style of shoppers in the UK and Ireland more than ever before and are proving very successful in their own right.
6. What plans do you have for your business in 2022?
We believe we should be the first choice of any independent jewellery retailer looking for a high-volume branded jewellery offer. Where we share focus and ambition, we can become the number one brand in store. 2022 is the year we need to rejuvenate a number of retail accounts that haven’t grasped the scale of the commercial opportunity or who have struggled to make it a reality. There are some large disparities in performance across our retailer base that can be addressed by more sharing of best practice and focussing on execution. As well as performance disparities, we also have distribution gaps that need to be filled. But opening doors without a shared vision on what success looks like will not be part of our strategy.
7. Why did Nomination feel now was the right time to form a partnership with the CMJ? What was the drive and inspiration behind that?
We’re passionate about the opportunities to grow both distribution and sales, given our line of sight on regions and stores where the success is clear to see. We’ve been considering several different ways to share our message, but ultimately concluded that people and sharing are at the heart of what we do.
Within the CMJ membership we already have some our best performing stores and would be well regarded as a first-choice brand. Working to broadly share this advocacy needs direct conversations, not traditional trade marketing. When we started a dialogue with the CMJ we felt like our potential was recognised and there was a willingness to innovate in how the tripartite relationship between brand, retailer and the CMJ might work. So, for us the strength of existing relationships, the people at CMJ HQ and quality of many of the stores we don’t yet work with, led us to pursue the agreement.
8. What sorts of retailer partners are you looking to work with?
It’s easier to think about the attitude of the people we’ll work with rather than the store type, location, or existing performance. In traditional jewellery stores, we can bring footfall and introduce precious materials to a wide audience with affordable price points, recruiting jewellery buyers of the future. In contemporary stores, we offer something for everyone and a frequent visit. Any retailer who directly or indirectly has seen the success of other “collectible” brands will understand the opportunity but can also be confident of our commitment to long-term partnerships and with no desire to own and operate stores directly.
We would say the attitude we are looking for is:
- Pro-Active: Nomination is not a big-budget consumer marketing company; it’s a company with people and product at its heart. The retailers that unlock the most success are prepared to work for the prizes the success brings.
- Focussed: You must want to sell Nomination Composable, and ensure staff are sales driven. The first sale of Composable collection requires a conversation between retailer and consumer, to explain the product, how it works, and understand how it meets the needs of the person that will wear it.
- Collaborative: We’re not dictatorial, but we know the main ingredients of success. Work with us to tweak these inputs to synergise with how your business works and we will maximise returns.
- Ambitious: We are not just another fashion brand, diversifying a brand into the jewellery sector. The brand grew from the product, and the product from understanding what makes people happy. As a result we can become the number one brand in most stores. We’re looking to work with retailers who share that vision.