Brilliant Earth Lowers Guidance Amid Macro Headwinds

FinancialsNov 14, 2022

Brilliant Earth Lowers Guidance Amid Macro Headwinds

The jewelry company posted a strong third quarter but remains cautious about the rest of the year.

The “Festivity” prasiolite and diamond ring in 18-karat yellow gold ($1,690) from Brilliant Earth’s new cocktail ring collection. It posted its fifth consecutive quarter of growth as a public company but is approaching the rest of the year with caution.
San Francisco—Brilliant Earth posted double-digit growth in the third quarter, marking its fifth consecutive quarter of growth as a public company, but has lowered its fiscal guidance in the face of macro headwinds. 

“Our ongoing strength reflects the growing awareness of Brilliant Earth as a key destination for highly-curated and exclusive jewelry in a joyful omnichannel shopping environment,” said CEO Beth Gerstein.

The company has been steadily growing its retail footprint, opening new stores in 10 cities in 2022.

Here are five important takeaways from its most recent results.

Brilliant Earth’s Q3 sales climbed double digits.

The company had a strong third quarter, with net sales totaling $111.4 million, a 17 percent increase year-over-year compared with $95.2 million in the previous third quarter.

Total orders were up 28 percent.

Net income was $5.7 million, up 43 percent compared with $4 million in the previous third quarter.

Gross profit was $60.9 million, or a 55 percent gross profit margin, compared to $48.0 million, or a 50 percent gross profit margin, in the prior-year period.

The margin expansion was driven by a strong brand presence, varied product offerings, and other factors, said the company.

“These results are the continuation of the multiyear strategy we’ve been executing to transform the jewelry industry. I know that is a bold and ambitious aim, but I start there because it is core to everything we do,” said Gerstein on an earnings call Friday evening.

For the first nine months, net sales were up 24 percent to $320.3 million, compared with $258.3 million in the prior-year period. Total orders were up 33 percent.

Net income totaled $12.8 million, down 14 percent compared with $14.8 million in the 2021 nine-month period.

Gross profit was $168.9 million, or a 53 percent gross profit margin, compared to $125.1 million, or a 48 percent gross profit margin, in the prior-year period.

Gerstein pointed to the company’s asset-light business model and its data-driven approach as reasons for its success.

In Brilliant Earth showrooms, customers can visit in person or make a virtual appointment to try on different pieces of jewelry, but will receive their purchase at a later date, as most styles are made to order.

Brilliant Earth is all in on fine jewelry.

The digital native company is best known for its bridal offerings but has been bolstering its fine jewelry offerings in recent quarters.

“Consistent with our plans, we continue to see outsized performance within our fine jewelry assortment with growth that far outpaces the business as a whole,” said Chief Financial Officer Jeff Kuo on the call.

However, since fine jewelry and wedding bands have a lower average price point than its overall business, there was a single-digit percentage decline in its blended average order value in the quarter.

“We have also seen outsized growth in fine jewelry at more accessible price points as our product breadth has expanded,” he added.

Overall, Gerstein said the company saw increased demand at the midrange of its offerings, which was offset by moderation in the $10,000-and-above price range.

“We’re not ready to call it a trend just yet, but it is something that we’re overall watching,” said Gerstein, noting this was first observed in October and this could vary for the holidays.

Brilliant Earth launched a cocktail ring collection last month ahead of the holiday season, channeling 1920s glamour into the new 21-piece line, featuring both natural and lab-grown gemstones.

The company also launched a men’s jewelry line this June and has introduced thousands of new natural and lab-grown colored diamonds, as well as a wider assortment of colors, shapes, and price points.

The company has also collaborated with popular designers for new collections, including Tacori and Jade Trau.

 Related stories will be right here … 

Brilliant Earth is continuing to grow its retail footprint.

Though it got its start in e-commerce, Brilliant Earth has been expanding its brick-and-mortar presence to meet customers wherever they are.

In 2022, the company opened new showrooms in 10 cities, including Houston, Minneapolis, Detroit, and St. Louis.

Brilliant Earth now has 25 showrooms, most recently opening locations in Palo Alto, California and Baltimore, Maryland.

The company plans to nearly double its showroom leases by the end of the year while it continues enhancing its digital experience as well.

“We are excited to see our retail footprint in both California and the Mid-Atlantic region continue to grow,” said Kathryn Money, senior vice president of merchandising and retail expansion, in a recent press release.

“The purchase of an engagement ring or piece of fine jewelry is a highly considered decision. Our showrooms are designed to help meet the needs of a new generation of customers, providing them an intimate, personalized, and joyful shopping experience.”

The company has retail locations in several key markets, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York.

“Our showrooms drive growth in average order value and, equally important, deliver strong ROI, reinforcing our belief in the power of the showroom model,” said Gerstein during the call.

It has lowered its fiscal outlook as it approaches Q4 with caution.

The company has lowered its fiscal outlook for the months ahead.

Though the company has seen growth, it said macro headwinds and “the anticipated promotional environment” are more difficult than earlier in the year, giving it a more cautious view of fourth quarter revenue.

“While we are still seeing strong consumer interest, demonstrating the resonance of our brand, we are seeing a further lengthening of the decision-making process given the macroeconomic uncertainty as more customers take a wait-and-see approach,” said Gerstein on the call.

The company has been seeing strong interest and traffic in its online showrooms, she added.

“One of the overall differentiators that we have is we don’t believe that all revenue growth is equal, and we don’t believe in chasing unprofitable growth,” said Gerstein, noting Brilliant Earth will not be discounting the same way other retailers may be to sell through their inventory.

The company now expects to see annual net sales of $436 million to $446 million, down from its previous guidance of $450 million to $470 million.

Its fourth-quarter sales are expected to be in the range of $116 million to $126 million.

The adjusted EBITDA is within the prior outlook range.

“With the key weeks of holiday selling still ahead of us, we are well prepared to take advantage of the season and are confident in our ability to extend our leadership as the jeweler of the next generation consumer in the near and long-term,” said Gerstein.

The company also lowered its guidance in the first quarter, noting the impact of the geopolitical and economic environment as well as more moderate sales growth despite strong demand.

Brilliant Earth is courting Millennial and Gen Z customers.

Brilliant Earth is looking to appeal to the younger market, particularly Millennial and Gen Z customers.

As part of its brand awareness strategy, the company designs its content for social media to draw in these demographics.

“We note that our millennial and Gen Z shoppers continue to over-index on research from word-of-mouth and social media,” said Gerstein on the call.

It’s been utilizing partnerships with in-demand influencers to create content for the wedding season, like curating the best wedding day jewelry or hosting a Q&A session on styling.

The company noted last quarter that its TikTok efforts have been especially successful, with 13 percent of customers surveyed stating that’s where they learned about the brand.

“During the third quarter, we scaled significantly more content, including influencer, organic, and branded content, with 50 percent content growth quarter-over-quarter and saw a more than 200 percent increase in viewership,” Gerstein added.
Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

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