Secrets, co-founder and MD, Jane Meredith, said she expects one to two stores to open in the second half of this year and then four a year, up to 30 to 40 stores.
Formerly operating with more franchisees than company-owned stores, Secrets has gone through a period of consolidation, and has been building the company store network in the past three years.
“We still have franchisees and we’ll still take that journey if the right franchisees come along,” said Meredith.
“Now we’re looking at a fairly big launch of a company store network.
“We describe ourselves as a fine and fashion jewellery brand. Whilst we don’t do natural diamonds, our designs are very fine in the sense that they’re made like we are putting a diamond in them,” she said.
As well as an online store, Secrets has nine shops – one in Western Australia, three in Victoria, four in Queensland, and one in NSW The retailer is looking to expand within the Sydney region, possibly at Westfield Miranda and Castle Towers.
Secrets stores are usually situated alongside other jewellery stores, high fashion stores, and brands at the Oroton level, around the second floor of shopping centres.
The company store launch follows the revamp of Secrets’ first store, founded in Noosa’s Bay Village complex in 2000. Having relocated to fashionable Hastings St, the shop showcases the new format and was chosen to hold the brand relaunch party.
“The celebration was a reminder to our customers that we are an Australian-owned company, born in a beautiful part of our country and now have stores nationally and online,” Meredith said.
She also emphasised how important it was for Secrets to capture its birthplace when launching the store and the business’ new direction.
“Noosa has recently come alive, with Hastings St lit up with the most beautiful fairy lights on all the trees in the street.”
To highlight the brand’s birthplace, Secrets drew inspiration from the local landscape; the new direction incorporates the distinctive lights that line Hastings St.
“We decided to take our own image of the lights and use it as our backdrop for advertising Secrets’ products,” Meredith said.
The black and white theme has also been enhanced. When Secrets was first launched, the fitout was plain, Zen, and minimalistic, according to Meredith.
“We didn’t want to look like the old world jewellery store, didn’t want women to feel either intimidated or confused, because they’re not diamonds, so we created our own style and took some inspiration from Europe and its minimalistic style in 2000.”
The look has now been softened. “We’ve put more lines into it, so that when people come in, it feels like there’s a flow through the store. It’s a little bit more feminine than it was.”
The back wall features large magnetic panels with photos, which can be easily changed. “They’re floor to ceiling so they’re really striking,” she said.
These panels are rotated from signature designs to seasonal ones. “As well as pulling all the Secrets campaigns together, it brings an emotional aspect into the store.”
Engagement and bridal markets comprise a significant percentage of sales, varying from 30 per cent in city stores to around 40 per cent in the suburbs.
Secrets’ gold ranges are created in 10 carats to stabilise the margins. “Especially with the dollar, and the fluctuation of the gold, it just means we can still offer a very high quality product to our customer,” Meredith said.
“We didn’t want to go to nine carat, and we’re finding 10 is being extremely accepted in the marketplace; we’ve had no pushback from customers with that, but we still do 14 carat in our engagement ring market because that is something that people really want – that high level of gold in their engagement ring.”
Silver ranges are also offered and a new handmade range called Catwalk features beads, crystals, and bold colourful designs. About to hit stores is the latest trend, the tippy ring; inspired by Rihanna, it sits at the end of the fingernail.
The market is pitched to women, but not any particular demographic. “We go from 16 to 100.”