2010 is in the books, and it's been another amazing year. Like every business in America, DNL was faced with the worst economy in two generations. In 2009 and 2010 the jewelry industry contracted at a rate that hasn't been seen since the Great Depression. Literally thousands of small local jewlers, as well as some of the biggest names in the industry simply went out of business and dissapeared. Early in the year I challenged our team to figure out a way for us to grow the business regardless of the economic climate. I believe that this down economy is not just a short-term phenomenon, but a systemic change in the US and world economies. Until the incredibly complex and overwhelming problems of massive global sovereign debt work themselves through, we will continue to only see short-term "bubbles" of prosperity.
Well, our team came through in an enormously positive way. We reconfigured some marketing and product strategies, changed some strategic directions, and by the middle of the year we were back to logging consistent double-digit month over month growth. It was an astounding and impressive effort by every executive, manager and associate in the company.
Every single part of the DNL organization had advancements and achievements. Our Retail operation had a tremendous year and were up 29%. The amazing people who run the Nexus Design Studio, our custom jewelry and design operation added so many capabilities, new designers, more CAD operators, tons of equipment for our Wisconsin fast turnaround manufacturing operation and more.
We reengineered our Customer Care Center, expanded our marketing team, added hundreds of videos and tons of enhancements to the website, brought on more Web Developers, and System Engineers, and brought online the beginnings of a state-of-the-art ERP and CRM system.
After nearly two years of hard work and many setbacks, we finally worked most of the kinks out of our Guangzhou China based manufacturing operation. We are now the only company in the jewelry industry successfully doing just-in-time manufacturing in China.
More than anything, we worked hard, and were, I believe, successful in finding new ways to surprise, serve and delight our fantastic customers, the number of whom passed 150,000 during the year! Every single day in 2010, on average well over 100 new people made the choice to join the Revolution and buy DNL jewelry. Our customer retention and re-order rate held steady at over 80%, and our return rate, already one of the lowest in the industry, was down another 7%. What an astounding testament to the work our people do.
All in all, a most amazing year. There is no way I could ever have the eloquence to adequately thank all of the people who have joined our organization that make this outstanding performance possible. I can just say that I am humbled, grateful and often just simply overwhelmed.
Watch out for 2011, cuz we've got some crazy stuff planned!