While he toiled away downstairs hand-crafting pieces for sale, his wife Winnie ran the shop and soon they expanded. First the couple started importing jewellery from Thailand, later founding a small workshop there.
The humble beginnings of Enevoldsen’s company in Denmark won’t be familiar but one of his products is instantly recognised by millions of women. The classic charm bracelet he created is one of the best-selling items of jewellery in the world while the rise and rise of Pandora is one of the great financial success stories.
Today Pandora has annual sales of about £1.7 billion and operates in more than 100 countries on six continents. It employs more than 16,000 people worldwide and in April will celebrate the opening of its 200th shop in the UK.
The most popular charm alone, a silver heart, has been bought by more than three million people while Pandora jewellery is worn by the likes of Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kim Murray and Pixie Lott. Strictly Come Dancing presenter Tess Daly is the face of Pandora.
Based on the simple concept of selling good-quality jewellery at affordable prices it is now a global brand. Yet drop into the company’s UK head office in West London and the chances are you will find the executives sitting down to breakfast with the receptionists or chatting about the previous night’s football results.
Peter Andersen, 49, Pandora’s UK president, was brought in eight years ago to launch the brand here and the UK now accounts for 15 per cent of total sales. A master baker who worked in the 100-year-old family business for six years he has imported a very Scandinavian way of doing things.
Breakfast and lunch are provided by the company, with workers encouraged to mingle in the company canteen irrespective of position in the hierarchy. Getting the right work-life balance is considered to be important so you won’t see Pandora employees or executives burning the midnight oil.
Andersen says: “Part of the company ethos is that everyone is treated well. I like to be approachable. We all sit together for meals and I don’t find it at all awkward. It’s very natural for me. I like to know what’s going on in my company but we talk about everything. I know which football teams they all support.
“I am also a big believer in that when we have done our jobs it’s about going home or getting out and doing something else. If you have a good balance you can contribute more in the hours you are here.”
It is an approach that has reaped dividends. Last year sales grew by 40 per cent globally and 50 per cent in the UK.
Andersen admits that he was taken aback by how quickly the brand, founded in 1982, became established in the UK where he heads a team of more than 100 people. “I still have the first handwritten business plan,” he says.
“We are doing a lot better than I ever imagined. The UK is one of our best markets at the moment and we are still very happy here.
“We took it slowly at first. We could have gone out and opened thousands of stores but we wanted to be in the right locations. It also goes back to selling the right products at the right price. They are not throwaway products yet they are affordable.”
Andersen, who grew up in a small town in Denmark about an hour from the German border, arrived here 19 years ago. He worked for other Danish companies in London before launching Pandora here.
He adds: “Pandora has been an incredible journey but the products retain the spirit of Per Enevoldsen. They are high quality, at the right price and we have been able to make Pandora jewellery aspirational.
“In the fashion industry, if you have two women in the same dress at a party they run and hide but if they both have a Pandora bracelet they will talk about the different charms they’ve collected.”
Asked to describe Pandora’s target audience he enjoys relating how he once found himself in the same airport queue as a Hollywood film star and a group of women who turned out to be three generations of the same family. Far from being star-struck by the actor their attention was drawn to the Pandora branding on Andersen’s golf bag.
When he revealed his link to the company the women were beyond excited. “They actually forgot about the movie star because it was much more interesting and exciting to talk to me about Pandora,” he laughs.
Pandora’s signature charm bracelet, first produced in 2000, actually began life as a necklace but Enevoldsen noticed that customers were buying the product and attaching charms. Today it accounts for 76 per cent of sales globally although the company wants to be known for the whole range of its jewellery.
Charms are priced from about £20 to £500, while the ever-popular charm bracelet retails for £55. Andersen says: “We’ve worked very hard to make sure we are not regarded as a one-trick pony . Rings now account for 20 per cent of our UK turnover and we’ve seen fantastic growth in necklaces and earrings.”
Pandora Charms UK