Hot 100 2013: John Cooney

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Securing 100 doors for Mi Moneda and Casio distribution in Ireland.

John Cooney is without doubt one of this year’s success stories. After firmly and quickly establishing Dutch coin concept brand Mi Moneda in Ireland he was appointed distributor for the UK.

In the first three months of that appointment he has secured more than 100 doors. It’s little wonder that he has since also acquired the Casio distribution for Ireland, something he embarked on just this July.

He says his prosperous journey so far has hinged on three key moments. The first came when he started with Fields Jewellers Dublin while in college as holiday cover. He was supposed to get two weeks’ work but ended up staying for seven years, saying “I learned about retail and jewellery from the best in the business there”.

The second moment came when he left Fields to open his own retail jewellery business in 1999. He expanded to two stores and sold up in 2008. “And thirdly while in the retail trade, I formed a partnership with IBB Amsterdam over 10 years ago, which is still going from strength to strength. IBB Amsterdam taught me how to sell fashion, how to build and protect a selective distribution and how important it was to understand inventory management to maximise sales.”

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It was while in Amsterdam in early 2011 that he spotted Mi Moneda in a jewellery store. “I literally couldn’t sleep that night with the excitement. I loved the concept and knew it would work in Ireland. Before my plane had left for home, I had already contacted the brand and I had a meeting set up in Eindhoven the following week. We opened our first account with some brave and loyal Irish jewellers in October 2011. Sales were something of a phenomenon that Christmas, helped by the fact that a few A-list celebrities like Rihanna became Mi Moneda fans and were seen wearing the brand.”

He has grown his business through incredibly tough economic times and that must affect his thinking, right?
“We try and do whatever possible to help retailers sell our brands. If it means one of us standing in a shop, behind the counter, serving customers for a few days, that is what we do. The focus for IBB Dublin is to never ever get comfortable. We have seen many bigger businesses around us fail.”

But while he has an enormous appetite for work, he adds: ”It is vitally important to not take life too seriously and it’s important to have a bit of craic at work.”

He is strong on team spirit at work, something that is not a million miles away from his earlier life, which saw him play his beloved football at a high level. Though a career in the sport didn’t quite happen for him, he has been a staunch Leeds United and Republic of Ireland fan and has travelled the world over the past 10 years supporting the country, so he knows a thing or two about team sports. “Anyone is only as good as his or her team. And my team is very good.”

John Cooney was selected as a CMJ Business Big Shot in the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2013, in association with The Company of Master Jewellers. To read a digital version of the book in full online, click here.

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