Hot 100 2014: Lorna and Mick McQuillan, Grace & Co

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The duo talk growing their business and Chinese proverbs.

"To help gather information about target markets I have spent many hours sat in Costa and Greggs watching people shop, working out the best locations for my stores,” admits Lorna McQuillan.

It’s been an exciting 12 months for Lorna and Mick, who effectively doubled the size of their business in October last year with the opening of a new Grace & Co store in Hinckley, and a Pandora concept store.

"We only had a matter of weeks to turn an empty unit into a shiny new shop, fully merchandised and with a customer-ready sales team,” explains Mick, “it was incredibly hard work but everyone pulled together and we did it.” Luckily for Lorna and Mick, they have nerves of steel and the business acumen to match.

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Lorna explains: “We have worked hard to offer our staff fl exible working hours without impacting negatively on customer service. We have sought to stay on top of costs and increase productivity too.”

Thankfully, their technique seems to be working; in August they started a recruitment drive for a new Grace & Co store, due to open in the Grantham area later this year. Despite their own strengths, Lorna and Mick are inspired by two brands they have worked closely with for more than 10 years – Pandora and Nomination.

As Grace & Co seeks to carve its own niche, the McQuillan’s are inspired by any company that knows its strengths, understands its consumers and is willing to adapt to suit their needs. With a persistence and positivity that’s admirable in such a challenging industry, Lorna and Mick trust their judgement and advocate a ‘slow-fast’ approach to business.

As Lorna concludes: “It’s important not to rush; always check your ideas out. Market research is invaluable but needn’t be complicated or expensive. At the same time, it is important to move quickly. The process from the decision to open a Pandora concept store to our fi rst sale took three months.

My advice is, take your time, but hurry up about it. I like an old Chinese proverb – ‘A man who hesitates over every step spends a lot of time on one leg.’”

Lorna and Mick McQuillan were named IJL Retail Stars in the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2014, in association with headline sponsor Pandora and principle partner The Company of Master Jewellers.

To read a digital version of the Hot 100 2014 book in full online, click here.

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