HOT 100 2011: Justin Stead

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A successful turnaround made this Aurum boss a Ti Sento Retail Star.

As we start the build up to the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2012 in association with The Company of Master Jewellers and supported by gold partner Ti Sento, we indulge in a bit of looking backwards to the leading lights of the jewellery industry that made it into the Hot 100 2011. Today is the turn of Aurum chief executive Justin Stead whose successful retail turnaround strategy landed him a place as a Ti Sento Retail Star. 

As the head of watch and jewellery retail group Aurum, which owns Watches of Switzerland, Mappin & Webb and Goldsmiths, Justin Stead has kept a low profile as the business underwent some seismic changes after its links with the Icelandic banking industry shook the company to the core.

“When we took the business over three years ago we were quite definitely in very different circumstances,” says the effortlessly charismatic Justin, who was born in Australia and studied in the US before moving to the UK five years ago.

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Things looked shaky at Aurum for a long while, but under Justin’s leadership it has turned around and become one of the best multiple retail success stories of the recession. The business is now in rude health, racking up record results after record results and is on the verge of selling for a pricely sum.

But, as Justin is keen to stress, there is no I in team. He praises his staff and says that much of the turnaround was down to motivating and mobilising the Aurum workforce. “It has been tough on the high street and I am very grateful that I have a fantastic team around me,” he says. “This is not a one-man band and if you get people motivated in the right way then the sky is the limit.”

Justin describes himself as a hands-on chief, which he admits leads him to be very busy, but he does still have time for fun outside working hours.

Justin is a former professional tennis player, having played professionally in the 1980s before becoming a watch buyer at Zales in the US, then moving to Fossil and eventually taking over from Jurek Piasecki at Aurum, and is still keen on the sport in his spare time.

Aurum is about to enter another period of change when the new ownership kicks in but Justin assures us he will still be there to lead the business – “I’m very committed” – and that under careful management it will continue to bloom.

This interview was taken from the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2011. If you or someone you know has had a great business year and are hot enough to be part of the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2012 then click here for more information about the nomination process.

 

 

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