Gary Birchley on the importance of building strong industry relations.
I started at Alfred Terry when I was 17 and stayed for nearly 30 years.
I worked with some great characters over the years and it amazed me how such trust was in abundance in the trade and the big deals that would be agreed on a hand shake alone. Nothing more was needed, just the handshake. People were trustworthy and delivered what they said they would.
I was part of Alfred Terry’s management buyout in the late 1980s and became a shareholder until the sale to Gitanjali in 2011. As part of Alfred Terry I had been part of a company steeped in history going back over three generations and with that came absolute integrity, great quality and service. Unfortunately under the new ownership, from 2011, things were not how they used to be. We were not delivering, the quality was questionable and I personally hated having to let my customers down.
Gitanjali put Alfred Terry into liquidation in October 2013 and after the initial shock of finding myself without a job, I soon realised that there could be an opportunity to try and continue to offer what Alfred Terry did when they were great. Personally, I also wanted to try to repair some of the damage caused under the new ownership and rebuild my name as somebody who can be relied on 100%.
In November 2013 I set up Gary James Fine Diamond Jewellery. A business totally owned by me and totally under my control, using reliable manufacturing sources that were established in my time at Alfred Terry.
There are many supply companies out there nowadays that call the shots and dictate how you run your business. Although this suits many, and can be a great revenue generator particularly with the successful brands, I want to return to the values that I grew up with — to the good old days of having a reputation of being 100% reliable and doing whatever we can to help.
Gary Birchley is the founder of fine jewellery wholesaler Gary James Fine Diamond Jewellery.