Best of British Q&A: Steve Wright, Alfred Terry

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Jewellery brand chief exec on taking a Brit classic worldwide.

The January issue of Professional Jeweller was all about celebrating British jewellery talent and looking at what UK companies can do to take their jewels global. Here Alfred Terry chief executive Steve Wright speaks about his plans to take this 100-year old British brand to the international stage sinces its takeover by Indian jewellery superpoer Gitanjali Group.

Professional Jeweller: Alfred Terry claims to be one of Britain’s oldest jewellery brands but 2013 is all about pushing the brand on the international stage. Tell us more about this.
Steve Wright: At Alfred Terry we are taking our first steps into the international market in 2013. We have agreed a distribution partnership with Samuels Jewellers in the USA for ourPortamento Collection, are working on a line for the Asian market, and are in discussions with several of Europe’s national chains. Our ambitious plan is to be selling worldwide by 2014.

PJ: What do you believe a British jewellery brand needs to succeed abroad?
SW: For me it’s about realising the strength of your brand equity and staying true to it. Alfred Terry has been around for over 100 years so we have to play on the core attributes of our brand: classic British design, strong heritage, service, quality and trust. This has to come through in the new product development. Our 1909 Origins collection has seen us go back through the archives reviving and refining some of our classic bestsellers. This has been really well received by our retailers this year.

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PJ: Does Alfred Terry manufactured its jewellery in the UK or abroad? And what do you believe British jewellery manufacturing could or should do to compete with other countries such as China or India?
SW: We still design and produce several collections in the UK. The rest comes from our [Gitanjali Group’s] factories in India and the Far East. It’s impossible to compete purely on price when producing large volumes; to compete, we have to ensure that the quality and craftsmanship of our locally produced collections are of an even higher quality than the excellent work we are producing in volume in our factories overseas. Price plays such a large part nowadays, but we have a very clear picture of our end consumer and are creating collections not only based on price but also focusing on quality and design. I am working closely with Concetta Lanciaux, the former advisor to Bernard Arnault of LVMH, and she recalls many conversations in which Bernard said “don’t talk to me about compromising quality to reduce costs, find me a way to sell this product for more”.

PJ: What do you believe the future holds for the British jewellery industry?
SW: Fashion, fashion, fashion! Jewellery is now a fashion business more than ever before. Consumers are spending more than ever on brands as they have a social value. 

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