HOT 100 BUSINESS BIG SHOTS: Howard Levine, Managing Director, Chalfen of London

Howard Levine, managing director, Chalfen of London

Every business reaches a milestone moment in their journey at one point or another and for Chalfen of London that duly came when it reached the conclusion that selling diamonds as a pure commodity was no longer a sustainable long-term prospect for it or its retail partners.

While that may sound like a difficult pill to swallow for such a diamond business steeped in history, the stark realisation that it needed to alter the course of its path actually inspired it to create a strategy that is designed to help sell diamonds based on romance and desirability, thus limiting its exposure to the pressure of the certificate.

“To sell diamonds today you really have to be on top of your game,” says managing director, Howard Levine, who took over the business 18 months ago following the retirement of Brian Chalfen after almost 50 years in the industry.

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“This not only refers to us but to our retail partners. Everyone talks about the experience that bricks and mortar have to bring but no one seems to know what that means. I say that it has to start with fully-trained staff who can offer help and advice beyond the ability of online. Our free diamond sales training course offered to all retailers has proved more successful than we could have imagined.”

The emails and notes that Chalfen has received after each event offers all the evidence that Howard needs that the company is saying things in a different way to everyone else.

“They help us to know that we are doing the right thing and it is obvious that the trade agree that this is a vital part of the mix and is needed today more than ever before,” he says.

“Our aim is to help retailers to sell more diamond rings and jewellery in a very difficult time. It is not just through our experience and understanding of our business that will enable us to do this but rather in the way that we are able to share that understanding.”

The idea for Howard’s photoshoot was formed while looking out across the beautiful green grass of Lingfield Racecourse. “I thought it would be a fun and memorable shoot. I love all animals (I have two cats at home) and satisfied my desire not to conform to the norm,” he comments.

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