Michael Hill to boost in-house design focus

Michael Hill is focusing on its sales team, internal design capabilities and digital in an effort to turn around the business in FY19 after a year of “profound change” that saw the business’s profits drop by 86 per cent.

In an address to shareholders, Michael Hill chair of the board Emma Hill said that the core business remains incredibly strong, despite the difficulties of the previous year.

“We completed a strategy review and identified a number of opportunities to further strengthen our customer franchise and improve our performance metrics,” Hill said.

“We are energised by the compelling opportunity to be a global leader in the fine jewellery category.”

Hill laid out Michael Hill’s strategy moving forward as being centred on best-in-class sales force, a differentiated brand proposition, and a seamless digital experience.

“We know the quality of our customer interactions is a key performance driver so we invest heavily in sales coaching, training and engagement,” Hill explained.

“Secondly we are differentiating our brand… to meet growing demands for personalisation, meaning, and self expression we are evolving into a design led jewellery retailer, where our product is unique and beautifully designed with our customers in mind.”

Last year, Michael Hill’s proprietary collections grew to 18 per cent of sales, and Hill said that enhancing the team’s in-house design capabilities will accelerate this growth.

Michael Hill chief financial officer Andrew Lowe added that branded collections provide a unique product offering to customers and, in doing so, will help to build brand equity.

“It is important that we create and reinforce a true point of difference in the market, which we will aim to do so through various initiatives, including a better in-store customer experience,” Lowe said.

Finally, Hill noted the importance of digital, and that while jewellery shopping is a personal decision, customers invest a significant amount of time researching their products online before ever visiting a store.

“To be a successful jewellery retailer in today’s rapidly changing environment, means enabling our customers to shift seamlessly between channels,” Hill said, explaining a road-map to improve the customer experience through the use of data and analytics.

“We will tailor and personalise communications and better integrate our online and in-store experience. The board has approved significant investment in digital infrastructure and capability to deliver this strategy.”

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