Hot 100 2014: Paul Magri-Harris, Hills Jewellers

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Hills the Jewellers manager on family, tradition and store makeovers.

Some of you may remember Paul Magri-Harris from his stint as one of the Ugly Sisters in The CMJ’s pantomime in 2013. But most of you will be more familiar with Paul in his role as the charming manager of Hill’s the Jewellers, in the Suffolk town of Felixstowe.

Taking a tip from his stage makeover, Paul this year waved his magic wand over the Hill’s store, revealing a new look and fresh lease of life. “My greatest achievement would definitely be the refit of my shop and receiving compliments from customers that it looks bigger, brighter and is better to browse,” he says.

The rejuvenated space was thoroughly considered by Paul, and a CSR element has filtered nicely into Hill’s daily operations. “On completing the refi t we also changed our attitude towards our carbon footprint with recycling, changing all of our lighting, monitoring all our energy usage and how we dispose of our rubbish,” he explains.

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The result? A special silver award from the Suffolk Carbon Charter, of which Paul is especially proud. For Paul, business is a true family affair. His wife Vanessa is of family-run Flitwick Jewellers, and she and Paul work together across Hill’s and Flitwicks to deliver the best customer service possible, with families at the centre of so many purchases.

“I am a people person and like to provide top-quality service to my customers. We have found people appreciate that we are a traditional family-owned business where service, quality and friendship go together,” he says.

Following in this vein, a stand-out experience from the past year was creating a special fingerprint pendant for a customer. “A father and son chose a heart-shaped pendant, which was a surprise gift for the mother,” Paul says, recollecting the memory. “I feel this was very sentimental and garnered a great sense of achievement knowing I could provide this gift for them in time for Christmas.”

Readers may be wondering about Paul’s hoofed companion. It’s not just any pony – it’s a Welsh Section A pony and one of a number of award-winning beasts that Paul takes to agricultural shows. “Living on a farm in Bedfordshire, there’s no rest just play when I am away from the business,” he laughs. “I maintain the land we live on and we also organise car boot sales on our land in two eight-acre fi elds, from May to September.”

Paul Magri-Harris was 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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