24 RETAILER HALL OF FAME 2017 In a holiday season in which Tiffany & Co. stumbled and Signet Jewelers disappointed, Birks posted a 16 percent jump in comps for its U.S. stores and 3 percent for its Canadian operations. ‘HE GETS IT’ After moving to North America to take the Birks job five years ago, Bédos was invited to join a group of executives of larger jewelry retailers who regularly get together to exchange ideas. There, he met and befriended bothAlan Zimmer, the longtime head of Reeds Jewelers Inc., and Ben Bridge Jeweler’s Marc Bridge. When asked about Bédos, both mention the way he has used his innovative approach to retail to enliven an old brand that needed refreshing. “He’s done what I consider to be a masterful job of changing the nature of their stores, remodeling stately, older guild stores into very modern-looking jewelry stores with shop-in-shops for all the major brands,” says Zimmer, who is also a Retail Hall of Famer (class of 1992). “I think he’s the real deal. He gets it.” Bridge has visited with Bédos’s team in Montreal, and the two spent time together at the SIHH watch show in Geneva as well. He says from his perspec- tive, Bédos took a really smart approach to running the 138-year- old jeweler: He identified what Birks does well and what its cus- tomers want, and figured out how to deliver it to them in a manner that’s consistent with current expectations. “We need to have more smart and creative people trying differ- ent things,” Bridge says. “That’s how the [jewelry] business is going to be successful over time.” While Bédos would certainly not disagree with that state- ment, he has another thought about what makes for success in retail today—the willingness to acknowledge that change is needed and the modesty to admit that you might need help navigating it. “Those who are successful today are those who are humble about the fact that they might not have all the answers,” he says. “Recipes of the past might not work anymore.” “Those who are successful today are those who are humble about the fact that they might not have all the answers.” —Jean-Christophe Bédos An interior shot of the new Birks concept store in Yorkdale, Ontario and an ad for one of the retailer’s exclusive jewelry collections, Muse Ribbon.