For a small city with a population under 30,000, Chichester high street hosts a selection of strong independent jewellers.
Out of the independent jewellers which reside in West Sussex city, many of them have received Hot 100 status over the last couple of years. In 2015 alone two Chichester store owners were named ‘Business Big Shots’ (Jonathon Pressley of Pressleys and Alan Frampton of Cred Jewellery) and one was praised as a Hot 100 ‘Retail Star’ (Mandy Sargeant of RL Austen).
During Professional Jeweller’s latest cityscape, editor Stacey Hailes visited the three Hot 100 retailers to find out why Chichester is a great city to do business in.
It didn’t take long to discover that one of its greatest strengths is that it is a very affluent city.
“There is a real hub of wealth,” explains Cred Jewellery owner Alan Frampton. “It is the centre for solicitors and accountants, you’ve got the theatre, you’ve got some very high profile places and that’s why there are about 15 jewellers in Chichester.”
In West Wittering affluent celebrities own houses which cost between £3-6 million. The city also hosts multiple private schools, big businesses with thousands of employees and a strong farming community.
“The great thing about Chichester is there are lot of wealthy people around,” adds store manager at Pressleys Gemma Clive. “It is buzzing really because lots of people come to the market. That’s not just a summer thing, but they have a local market here on Fridays and it is always really busy. And of course at the theatre there are always loads of productions going on there and things going on at the cathedral, so it’s a real draw. Although it’s not massive, it’s quite a bustling little city really.”
With the city being so small, it allows itself to have more of a town feel to it, yet still house big high street multiples such as Next, Marks and Spencer and House of Fraser – which recently invested a lot of money into a refurbishment in the city.
“Although Chichester is a city, it feels more like a friendly market town,” explains RL Austen owner, Mandy Sargeant. “Chichester is very vibrant and an individual city by means of a great assortment of independent shops, that can provide customers with different merchandise from that of an indoor shopping centre.”
She adds: “I have asked customers, in the winter when the weather hasn’t been good, would they be attracted to an indoor shopping centre but they all say they prefer Chichester even in the rain to an indoor shopping centre that looks the same whichever town you are in.”