Hot 100 2013: Oliver Sutton

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How innovation has boosted Charles Green wedding ring sales by 17%.

Oliver Sutton’s presence on this list marks a passage of success against the odds. He became sales director for Charles Green in 2009, just as the recession was starting to bite. To some that may have seemed like a poisoned chalice. Not to Oliver; he drank eagerly.

“Being tasked with growing the business during that period was a huge hurdle, particularly as retailers’ confidence to invest in new, largely untested, lines was severely shot. Yet with some imaginative stock and recycling offers we were able to introduce fantastic new designs whilst alleviating our retailers of older slow-moving stock.”

He has grown wedding ring sales by 17%, worked with the design team on new products that have included increasing gents’ patterned ring ranges by 30% and the introduction of new diamond-set pieces and was the driving force behind the shape-to-fit service allowing Charles Green to combine CAD with handcrafted techniques. He is now scaling up with some new machinery and looking to increase the business’s export capabilities to Europe and the US.

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The Birmingham manufacturer is charting year-on-year hikes in unit sales for the third year running and that’s not the only good news. “What has really stood out for me this year has been the number of new accounts we have opened. The interest in Charles Green has really boomed, which is solely due to the hard work of everyone at the company.”

Yet it’s less inspiration that he credits for his success, as sheer bloody-minded persistence. “I was once so desperate to see a particular jeweller that I called every day for months until I eventually got through. At that point I was then told that they weren’t interested, to which I replied ‘you have two options; either take out a restraining order or give me 15 minutes of your time’. Fortunately the person on the other end of the phone laughed, I got my 15 minutes and that jeweller is now a valued customer.”

Oliver’s success has been impressive and for him the best thing was sharing some of it with his dad. Oliver’s father Richard Sutton, who was managing director at Charles Green, passed away in January this year, leaving Oliver with some treasured memories and – it seems – a wicked sense of humour. “My father and I were big fans of Gore Vidal quotes, predominantly because we found them funny. That said, I always felt that Vidal spoke to the devil in all of us.” He quotes a few: “There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise…The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so… Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.” Given his success, let’s hope Oliver’s friends are more generous than Vidal.

Oliver Sutton 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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