Best of British Q&A: Shaun Leane

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Award-winning British jewellery designer on success abroad.

Shaun Leane is a much-loved homegrown British jewellery talent and over the past couple of years his self-titled jewellery house has been focusing on strengthening its international business. He tells Professional Jeweller about his overseas operations and international plans for the future.

PJ: Yours is a British brand that has enjoyed international success – what is the extent of your international operations at present, including own stores and stockists, and what are your plans for this division?
Shaun Leane: While we enjoy our international success, we only make our collections available to a select list of high end boutiques and department stores worldwide. We are represented by 45 of the best stockists in the UK. Internationally, Shaun Leane is available in Moscow and St Petersburg, Kuwait, as well as key stores which includes Bergdorf Goodman in New York, Harvey Nichols in Dubai and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong. In the coming years, we have plans to open stores in China.

PJ: Have you found some international markets more difficult than others to open in?
SL: Every market is raised with different challenges so I don’t feel some international markets are more difficult than others. I feel it is more about understanding how one buying culture varies from another. Having a local partner is beneficial as they are able to offer market insights and spot opportunities for your product, this is particularly helpful when establishing your brand in the Far East.

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PJ: What and when was your first step into trading internationally and how did it come about? Did you receive any help, funding or guidance?
SL: We first showed at the Tranoi show in Paris in 2003 to attract international clientele, then at Baselworld in 2006. We were responsible for all the funding of these shows.

PJ: When we think of leading British jewellers the trio Shaun Leane, Stephen Webster and Theo Fennell come to mind and we’ve not seen any other British jewellers hit those heights just yet. Why do you think this is? Is it a case of a tough economy, more competition, etc?
SL: First of all, thank you, what a complement. In all honesty, it is tough to build a brand in this current economic climate. Luckily, organisations such as UK Trade & Investment offer advice and supports to young talents and help guide them in the right direction. On the other hand, to further the brand internationally, the key comes down to financial support, which nowadays is hard to come by. We have been fortunate enough to introduce ourselves on an international platform through some of our collaborations and through organic growth, we were able to finance our brand in international markets.
 

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