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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Signet Jewelers Acquires Rental Subscription Rocksbox, Bringing $2 Billion Service Business Goal Closer

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For the past three years, Signet
Jewelers has been on a “Path to Brilliance,” the official name of its business growth strategy to build and strengthen its portfolio of brands including Kay, Zales, Jared, Peoples, and Piercing Pagoda.

Already laying claim to being the nation’s number one jewelry retailer and the world’s largest retailer of diamond jewelry, the pressing question is how much bigger can it actually grow. With its commanding lead in the jewelry retail box, it requires out-of-the-box thinking to grow significantly bigger.   

Rather than just improving business – selling more jewelry for more money more often to more people and doing it more efficiently, as famed marketer Sergio Zyman defines success – Signet CEO Virginia “Gina” Drosos aims to transform the business. She is looking for new ways to create value for the customer and value for the company beyond just doing what its always done, only better. 

That is what the acquisition of jewelry rental subscription service Rocksbox represents: an out-of-the-box play that offers customers new ways to enjoy jewelry without the pain of buying it.

Founded by former McKinsey and Bain consultant Meaghan Rose in 2012, not long after the 2009 launch of fashion rental service Rent The Runway, Rocksbox offers $21 per month subscriptions for three jewelry selections from noted designers like Kate Spade, Kendra Scott, gordana, Perry Street, Sophie Harper and Slate. The monthly subscription fee can be applied toward the purchase of items that customers want to keep.  

Acquired for an undisclosed price, the company also didn’t release the number of Rocksbox subscribers, but it said the Rocksbox customer base shores up a weakness in Signet’s own: that of self-purchasing women.

“Under CEO Meaghan Rose’s leadership, Rocksbox has revolutionized the jewelry rental subscription marketplace by delivering personalized, online and data-driven customer experiences for jewelry lovers who prioritize fashion, online convenience and sustainability,” Drosos said in a statement.

With the Rocksbox acquisition, Signet takes a major step in the next phase of its “Path to Brilliance” strategy, called “Inspiring Brilliance.” This new phase hinges on attracting new customers to grow market leadership; expanding in ‘accessible’ luxury and value segments; accelerating digital e-commerce; and growing its service offerings. 

Rocksbox plays into all these, but most especially expanding Signet’s service offerings. Already a $500 million business, including jewelry customization, repair, financing, and piercings, Drosos aims to grow services to a $2 billion business “over time,” she told me.

Considering that Signet is roughly a $6 billion business, though it hit a speedbump in the pandemic year, that represents a huge potential growth segment for the business.

While Rocksbox brings an unknown number of customers into Signet’s sphere, it is much more important in bringing a proven subscription business model. It will engage its existing customers in new ways and bring in more new ones who want to rent jewelry for special occasions or who desire to have an ever-changing wardrobe of everyday jewelry.

It’s an opportunity that Drosos hinted at in an interview before this announcement. “Rental and subscription business has obviously taken off in women’s apparel. Given our jewelry repair and care experts, we can easily rent a piece of jewelry to one person this month, then polish it up and rent it to someone else,” she said, and added, “Services is the glue that connects together a lifetime of customer engagement.”

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