Jesper Nielsen on Mallorca
Meet the entrepreneur behind Pandora's success
The Danish entrepreneur, who made Pandora a 1.83 billion € company, has initiated a new project. At his C’as Catalá mansion on Mallorca he tells us, the story of his success.
Per and Winnie Enevoldsen had opened a small jewellery shop in Copenhagen in 1982. Soon after, they were wholesalers for pieces imported from Thailand. After several years, they established their own factory in Thailand – and developed the individual style of the brand alongside designers Lone Frandsen and Lisbeth Larsen.
Thanks to Kenneth Ramstrup, a highly gifted successful salesman of the company, Pandora became very popular in Denmark, but not beyond. In 2004, at a jewellery exhibition, he met Jesper Nielsen – a passionate entrepreneur who recognized Pandora’s great potential. An expert in the creation of ‘super brands’, Jesper managed to establish Pandora in Germany and in five other countries. He was appointed managing director for Western Europe and was responsible for the internationalization of the brand. Today, Pandora is the world’s third largest jewellery company – behind Cartier and Tiffany – and has more than 9,000 employees. Overall, Pandora has more than 500 branded stores and as many franchisees in more than 80 countries, including China and Australia.
This all sounds well and good, but the story is not yet over. When Pandora went to the Copenhagen Stock Exchange in 2010, it was one of the most significant transactions in Europe that year. Jesper sold his shares in Pandora in April of 2011. This was accompanied by a clause that forbade him to get back into jewellery industry before June, 2013. The Danish tax authority retained his profits, which made Jesper the biggest tax case in Denmark.
“I’m still waiting for the verdict, although the authorities have officially apologized to me. There were two other people who sold their shares, one in Thailand and one in America, but I was the only one in Denmark and paid for all. I am an esteemed entrepreneur and am treated like a criminal. That’s very hard.”
All this he tells us in his house on Mallorca, a magnificent villa on the waterfront, from where he pursues his current activities. Jesper has five children and is married for the second time. His wife is German. He likes to spend time with his friends in Puerto Portals and having dinner at C’an Pedro.
“It’s my favourite restaurant with excellent value for money. I come from a working-class family. My father was an electrician and my mother worked in a kindergarten. I like these kind of simple things,” he says with overwhelming openness and adds: “At first, I used to work at gas stations and supermarkets, later with KASI, with which we sold Pandora articles and got the brand more widespread. It was not just about advertising, but about having a presence in as many sales outlets as possible.”
After leaving Pandora he devoted himself to the promotion of a Danish football club, a Formula 1 car, and the handball club of his hometown: he achieved great success and brought it back to the third Danish league. He had played semi-professional handball for many years himself, but wanted to achieve more. He wanted to be back “globally active”. Nineteen months after its clause had expired, Jesper decided to advance a new project, with his company, the KASI Group, where his sister Annette Nielsen is a co-owner. The company’s headquarters are based in Düsseldorf (Germany).
His new project – Endless Jewelry – has been inspired by Jesper’s time with Pandora. Pieces are produced in Thailand and Vietnam. “I was 33 years old, when I started with Pandora. Now I’m 45, I have lots of experience, optimism, energy, and a philosophy of affirmation. I have met many successful people, most of them pleasant and personable. One cannot make success on your own: treat well those who will do anything for you.”
The goal is to make Endless another billion-euro company in the jewellery sector. It currently holds 1,500 sales points in more than 20 countries and has a value of 30 million dollars. The concept is to produce jewellery for everyone and for every occasion. At an average price of 30-40 euros, Endless offers a wide selection of different coloured leather straps, hundreds of different handcrafted charms in sterling silver, gold-plated silver in shades of pink with yellow gold, and 18K gold, as well as semi-precious stones.
“Our ambassador is Jennifer Lopez, an impeccable woman; intelligent and, with her 45 years, as beautiful as ever. She appeals to everyone. It is very difficult to hire a celebrity like her as brand ambassador: her manager is from Denmark, this helped us a lot. We have signed a contract with her, worth $ 10 million for three years. The collection bearing her name is a mega-seller in the United States. “Social media have made the world go round at higher speed and I spend many days on the plane.
But the most beautiful place on earth? This is Mallorca”, he tells us with a smile