Kings of luxury: New research highlights Pandora’s dominance

Kings of luxury: New research highlights Pandora's dominance - Artificial Jewellery

A new analysis of the market capitalisation of the world’s leading luxury goods companies shows that five of the top 25 are jewellery businesses.

Interestingly, two companies are retailers rather than wholesalers/product brands. Chow Tai Fook Jewellers and Signet Jewelers are ranked 12 and 24, respectively, while Pandora, with a market capitalisation of $USD13.3 billion, is ranked 13.

Pandora’s business model encapsulates both business-to-consumer (retail) and business-to-consumer (supply/wholesale) distributing its product to retailers.

Unsurprisingly, two watch companies – The Swatch Group and Rolex – complete the jewellery and watch industry’s appearance in the Top 25 list.

It should be noted that many of the remaining 20 companies listed also have watch and jewellery products/brands.

For example, LVMH owns TAG Heuer and Tiffany & Co., and Richemont houses watch and jewellery brands such as Baume & Mercier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Piaget; however, only Pandora, Swatch, Rolex, Chow Tai Fook and Signet Jewelers focus on the watch and jewellery industry as a core business.

Most companies operate across multiple retail categories, including cosmetics, perfume, apparel, fashion and leather goods.

EssilorLuxottica is an Italian-French multinational corporation that specialises in eyewear and eyecare. Its eyewear brands include Ray-Ban, Oakley, Giorgio Armani, Brunello Cucinelli, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, and Dolce&Gabbana.

The high-profile brands were part of Luxottica before it merged with the French eyecare giant Essilor under an €EUR16 billion deal in 2017.

Similarly to Pandora, EssilorLuxottica straddles both business-to-consumer (retail) and business-to-consumer (supply/wholesale). Essilor operates retail optometry retail stores in Australia under the OPSM banner.

It is therefore arguable that Essilor should not be considered a ‘luxury’ goods business, given it sits in the optometry (prescription lenses) and ophthalmic (eye disease) markets.

If it were not for the merger with Luxottica, the French entity certainly would not be considered one of the world’s most valuable luxury companies, regardless of its market capitalisation.

With a market capitalisation of $USD9.08 billion, Rolex is listed at 19, while Swatch Group is valued at $USD12.34 billion. It is also worth noting that Swatch has 17 different watch and jewellery brands, including Longines, Omega, Rado, Breguet and Swatch, while Rolex is a single-brand company.

King of the castle

The analysis confirms that Pandora is the largest jewellery brand in the world, given that all other jewellery and watch brands are part of larger holding companies.

For example, Tiffany & Co. was acquired by LVMH in 2021 in a landmark $US15.8 billion takeover.

It also highlights the speed at which Pandora became one of the most significant ‘players’ in the international jewellery industry, competing against long-entrenched icons.

With that said, while they compete in different sectors of the consumer market, there is conjecture as to whether Pandora or Tiffany & Co. should be considered the ‘largest’ jewellery brand in the world.

It’s not an easy question to answer.

Charles Lewis Tiffany founded Tiffany & Co. in 1837, and it rose to prominence in the early 20th century under his son Louis Comfort Tiffany. It was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1987, and the company has been sold and acquired several times, ending with LVMH’s takeover in 2021.

However, the deal was not without controversy following the November 2019 announcement of a $USD16.2 billion price tag.

The purchase was expected to close in June 2020; however, LVMH decided to cancel the pending purchase three months later.

Tiffany subsequently filed suit, asking the US court to compel the purchase or to assess damages against the defendant; LVMH planned to counter-sue, alleging that mismanagement had invalidated the purchase agreement.

The dispute did not end there, see Timeline: Inside the Tiffany & Co. and LVMH merger.

Before Tiffany & Co. was delisted, its revenue exceeded Pandora each year. Does this make it the ‘largest’ jewellery brand in the world?

If revenue is the only measure of ‘largest’, then yes. However, if other important factors are taken into consideration, the issue becomes more complex.

For example, Pandora’s retail footprint (store locations) far exceeds that of Tiffany & Co. According to the Pandora website, its jewellery is sold in more than 100 countries on six continents through around 7,800 points of sale, including more than 2,400 concept stores.

This dwarfs the Tiffany & Co. worldwide store count of 326.

Regarding unit sales, Pandora wins hands down again, obviously because of its lower price point and target market. Pandora products adorn more women than Tiffany products. 

Consumer purchases of Tiffany & Co. tend to be a single item, most notably an engagement ring, at a higher price point. In contrast, Pandora’s target market is returning customers on a collectible basis.

Humble beginnings

Whichever way one wants to measure the world’s ‘largest’ jewellery brand, nothing can take away from Pandora’s meteoric rise.

The company was founded in Copenhagen in 1979 by Danish goldsmith Per Enevoldsen and his then-wife, Winnie Enevoldsen.

In 2008, the somewhat reclusive Enevoldsen told Jeweller, “At no stage did I ever dream Pandora would become what it has. One of the reasons is that we have always been too busy concentrating on new designs and product quality, that the success sneaks-up on you.”

He began importing jewellery from Thailand in 1982. After various attempts at managing production from afar and with sales steadily increasing, Enevoldsen decided to establish his manufacturing facilities in Bangkok.

Therefore, it wasn’t until 1989, when he and his wife moved to Thailand to set up a small manufacturing facility in Bangkok, employing ten people, that things changed.

Thirty-five years ago, this turning point was essentially the birth’ of Pandora as a brand.

On the other hand, industry icon Rolex was founded by Hans Wilsdorf in London in 1905. It is said that the 24-year-old Wilsdorf dreamed of a wristwatch that was not only reliable but elegant.

To improve wristwatches and convince the public of the reliability of his innovative timepieces, he used precise movements manufactured by a Swiss watchmaking company in Bienne.

Now, 119 years later, the company has a turnover of around $USD9 billion. By comparison, Swatch Group’s annual revenue is more than $USD12 billion across 17 brands.

The history of the Swatch Group is fascinating; it is the largest watch company in the world and employs more than 31,000 people in 50 countries.

The company was founded in 1983 following the merger of ASUAG and SSIH – two Swiss watch-making firms. At the time, Nicolas George Hayek was a Swiss businessman of Lebanese descent. He was asked by a group of Swiss banks to oversee the liquidation of ASUAG and SSIH, which were in turmoil due to competition from Japan.

The Quartz Crisis – as it became known – was the upheaval in the Swiss watchmaking industry caused by the advent of quartz watches in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Background reading: Did you know Swatch launched a smartwatch in 2004, well before Apple?

Quartz watches caused a significant decline in the Swiss watchmaking industry, which chose to remain focused on traditional mechanical watches. In contrast, most of the world’s watch production shifted to Japanese companies such as Seiko, Citizen and Casio.

Hayek believed the Swiss watch manufacturing industry could be competitive by restructuring operations and repositioning brands.

After the reorganisation, Hayek and Swiss investors bought a majority shareholding in the new group in 1985. Hayek became chairman and chief executive officer in 1986. His business strategies helped the Swiss watch industry regain its market-leading position.

Under Hayek’s guidance, the cheeky Swatch was born. It became a phenomenon. The company’s sales skyrocketed from $USD3 million in 1984 to $USD105 million in 1985.

In an exclusive interview with Jeweller in 2005, Hayak was asked: If you were told tomorrow you could not work for Swatch or in the watch industry for two years, what other industry would you like to make an impact on and why?

“The automotive industry. I’d reform it completely. I’d make better quality cars to serve humanity much better instead of having it being destroyed by the cars we have today,” he replied.

What comes next?

The international jewellery industry has seen two phenomena: the Swatch watch in the 1980s and Pandora in the 2000s.

Jeweller, and indeed much of the industry, has often asked the following question: Who or what will be the next Pandora?

If history is any indication, it won’t come from any of the 25 luxury goods companies above.

The Top 25 analysis was undertaken by Insider Monkey, a financial markets website.

The company explained its methodology as using “various sources including industry reports, multiple similar rankings in addition to our own rankings, and consulted stock screeners from Yahoo Finance and Finviz.”

“We used fiscal year revenues to rank the companies that are not publicly traded. For foreign companies, we converted the market caps and revenues to US dollars according to their respective exchange rates.”

The analysis valued and ranked publicly traded companies according to their market capitalisation as of 15 February 2024.

This also means that the rankings are dynamic and can change from day to day and week to week; however, it provides an insight into the size of the companies and their market dominance.


More reading
Sales momentum: Pandora shines in holiday season
Pandora reaches target ahead of schedule
Record sales for global jewellery leader
Currency headache: Swatch Group reports strong sales
Louis Vuitton launches men’s fine jewellery collection
Sales decline for retail jewellery giant
Tiffany & Co unveils eye-catching set of yellow diamonds
Slowdown: Jewellery sales ease for LVMH in third quarter
Back on track: Strong jewellery sales for Chow Tai Fook
Succession: What does the future hold for LVMH?


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