The last 10 months have been some of the most difficult for continental jewellery UK’s general manager. Here, Peter Mooney sits down with editor Stacey Hailes to discuss overcoming personal challenges and returning to work feeling more motivated and enthusiastic than ever before.
Continental Jewellery has endured a testing 12 months following general manager Peter Mooney falling ill during a sabbatical last year.
2015 should have been a year of pure celebration for Continental Jewellery as it marked two milestones; the 25th anniversary of its operations in the UK and 40 years since the company was founded in China in 1975. While business was good, Mooney’s personal life took a turn for the worse and impacted his work.
In June, Mooney’s mum became ill and passed away quite suddenly. Understandably, this distracted Mooney from his work so he decided to take a sabbatical and travel the world for six months. Following the approval from his mangers in the Hong Kong head office and support from colleagues back in the UK, Mooney set off two weeks after his mum’s funeral.
“I planned a sabbatical for a six-month world trip,” he explains. “I planned a week in Dubai, a month in Thailand, a month in Australia, Cambodia, Vietnam etc. My Hong Kong head office managerial team supported me and let me have it and my UK team supported me to have six months off from October to January. So I went, and six days into it I had a bad turn.”
Mooney had a good six days then one day he went back to his hotel room and started to feel dizzy. “I couldn’t see, I couldn’t focus, I had a headache and I couldn’t talk. I was lucky the hotel got a paramedic to me in five minutes. Five minutes after that an ambulance came. 10 minutes later I was in a hospital. The doctors saw me and gave me blood thinners. They stopped it from being too serious. I think if they hadn’t got the blood thinners to me so soon it would have got more serious.”
At the hospital it was confirmed that Mooney had suffered a stroke. He stayed in hospital for a couple of days, then checked himself out, but a few days later he had another turn and had to go back in. Mooney spent three weeks in recovery before ending the trip and returning to England.
“I spent three weeks in London. I saw the best doctors and eventually they found a hole in my heart,” Mooney shares about his return.
On December 19, Mooney had an operation to fix the problem with his heart and by January he was back at work despite his speech being severely impeded. “I came back to work and I was limited,” he says. “I got easily tired and couldn’t talk. I couldn’t hold meetings. It was frustrating.”
He continues: “I had speech therapy three days a week. I missed the Vicenza and Hong Kong shows, then my first trade show was Jewellery & Watch followed by Basel in March. I felt alright but my speech limited me and held me back for six months of the year.”
In July, Mooney had enough confidence in his speech to hold meetings, so he held his first since the stroke to let everyone know he is back in business.
Mooney is now back to work full-time and is grateful for all the support he has received during his recovery. “I would like to thank my team in the UK and Hong Kong head office for their support and my customers, friends and co-workers for supporting me and helping me out.
“My involuntarily rest has made me appreciate my life, appreciate my work and appreciate my voice. The involuntary rest has also made me want to work harder and it’s given me fresh ideas on how to tackle things and given me more enthusiasm than ever before.”
As he has prepared to come back to work full-time, Mooney has spent the last few months researching the market to help him decide the best things to do in order to move the business forward.
Research has included visiting stores and communicating more regularly with the Continental Jewellery design team and retailers.
“I’ve noticed that the UK market is becoming more price sensitive and that we need to fit to certain price points,” says Mooney, reflecting on his research. “Less risk is being taken when buying — no speculative pieces and it’s definitely back to basics. Everyone is going to core ranges now rather than buying one-off pieces.”
In response to his research Continental UK is looking to extend its core ranges and push these at the trade shows in 2017. The company will also focus on updating best-selling jewels and launching new products in 9 and 18 carat gold, alongside extending its popular bridal collections.
“After Brexit we’ve got to adapt, we need to make more accessible items,” Mooney explains. “We want to have more contact with our customers and I want us to work closer together with them to make the perfect collection and make the right pieces for the market.”
He continues: “With the weak pound and higher gold prices since Brexit, we know we are all going to have to work harder than ever to adapt to the market with the right products at competitive price points.”
With a clean bill of health, Mooney is more enthusiastic than ever to drive the Continental UK business forward and see it prosper through what have become challenging economic times.
Mooney concludes: “I’m back and more motivated than ever. I want to dedicate my life to this.
“I had nine months to access my life and now I appreciate my work and I want to commit and dedicate my life to making Continental UK successful in the future.”