This morning the Rapaport TradeWire® reported that Sterne Agee analyst Ike Boruchow upgraded shares in Tiffany & Co. from “Neutral” to “Buy” with a target price of $86, citing a highly visible margin recapture in the upcoming 18 to 24 months.
One of the reasons stated for the increased confidence in the stock price of Tiffany & Co., is a reference to “impressive hires” of two directors which are “strong enough” that Tiffany can expect to revive its lagging U.S. business, as indicated in a note that was sent out to clients of Sterne Agee.
I’m going to roll the dice and state that I disagree:
The news snipped contained in today’s Rapaport TradeWire® states that “In a note to clients, Boruchow described ”impressive hires” Anthony Ledru, head of the North American retail business, and Francesca Amfitheatrof, design director, as strong enough additions to the team that Tiffany & Co. can expect to revive its lagging U.S. business.”
Based upon my experience secret shopping Tiffany & Co., I’d say that Anthony Ledru has his work cut out for him, I found the sales staff at Tiffany to lack true knowledge about the basic 4C’s of diamond grading, and they were completely inept when it came to discussing diamond cut quality.
In an age when an abundance of diamond grading information is readily available to diamond buyers via the internet, the staff of a high end jewelry store such as Tiffany should at least be as knowledgeable as their customers when it comes to talking about the nature of clarity characteristics, polish, symmetry, and proportions.
I can’t even tell you how dumbfounded I was when I walked out of the last Tiffany & Co., that I visited by the total lack of diamond grading knowledge that faced me from across the sales counter… I was stunned, simply stunned. Especially by the answer which I got when I asked the sales woman about treated diamonds, in reference to a line on the diamond summary sheet that is the in-house property of Tiffany which read “Treatment: None” because her explanation was mind boggling and actually referenced a type of diamond simulant, which is clearly not a diamond treatment.
If Anthony Ledru expects to turn business around for Tiffany & Co., in the U.S. market, I suggest that he begin by creating an extensive training program that every Tiffany sales associate must attend and pass with flying colors…
It would also be great if they would get off of their high horse and start sending their diamonds to independent gemological laboratories like the GIA and AGSL for grading like pretty much every other jeweler in America, because telling your customers things like “Trust us, it’s a Tiffany diamond” is not really all that reassuring!
And he might want to get the board of directors to reconsider their decision not to sell diamonds online. Of course that would require tightening up the overall diamond cut quality of the diamonds which Tiffany & Co. sells, because the average online diamond buyer seems to know more about diamond cut quality than the sales associates that I’ve dealt with at Tiffany, and when provided with basic details such as the total depth, table diameter, crown angle, pavilion angle, girdle thickness and culet size, they’re likely to realize that they can purchase a much better-cut diamond for a lot less from the Signature Collection of Brian Gavin Diamonds, and James Allen True Hearts.
No, I definitely do not agree with Sterne Agee that hiring two new directors is going to turn things around for Tiffany & Co., here in the United States. The only way that is going to happen is if they get with the times and start to provide their customers with the detailed diamond grading information that they crave, today’s consumer is well educated and wants to conduct business on their terms.