On creating a five-floor jewellery haven in the heart of Limerick.
There will never be an equation, formula or sum for creating the perfect retail jewellery environment. But if there was, it might just look like what Matt Ryan Jr has created at Matthew Stephens in Limerick City.
After 40 years it is both a family tradition and loyal community servant but when Matt pitched up in 2005 with his degree in business and marketing and a load of ideas, he went about bringing it bang up to date too.
“I had a vision for what potential Matthew Stephens had considering the store’s great location in the heart of Limerick’s shopping district. I suppose in many ways I convinced my father to trust my plan and, although a little nervous, he has always been very supportive of my elaborate ideas.”
The changes included completely gutting the current store and moving out for eight months while it was transformed into the image of a modern luxury jeweller. There were scary moments, like hitting the water table three months into the renovation and flooding the basement. “We were all thinking why have we demolished what was a fantastic store that so many others would love to have?”
Over the past year in particular Matt and the team have added many gradual phases of renovation to all five (yes, five) levels of the store with the opening of new Swarovski, Links of London and Thomas Sabo shop in shops, a Ti Sento branded wall display and a beautiful Carat* Boutique – the first of its kind in Ireland.
“On the ground floor level we fitted new luxury watch and diamond front window displays and also a Hearts on Fire environment, while on the Diamond and Bridal floor we now have a Moet mini bar, which works fantastically well for our in-store customer events throughout the year. Now our focus turns to a new shop front to further improve our flagship store.”
So it looks great and it’s got the brands. Of course the other element of that retail equation is the service and this is one area that Matt is particularly proud of. “For our customers, Matthew Stephens is all about exceptional service. We have built a fantastic team of amazing individuals and without them the store would be nothing like it is. I believe that they can see our passion and ambition to be the best and that this ethos has been passed onto them which has helped our business grow in the way that it has.”
Matt – who is recently married to Mary – says the future must hold just the same passion and drive to improve. “We have come a long way in becoming such a destination store in Ireland but we are very focused on continuing Matthew Stephens’ amazing growth into the future. We are as ambitious now as we were six or seven years ago and we’ll continue to strive to be the best that we can possibly be.” So, that equation? Family + innovation + right brands + customer service + the right aesthetic. You do the math.
Matthew Ryan, managing director of Matthew Stephens, was selected as an IJL Retail Star 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.