Porn, pawn and politics

Michael Allchin is set to retire as chief executive and Assay Master of the Birmingham Assay Office.

BAO’s Michael Allchin on what links these three Ps to retail.

By Michael Allchin

I had the good fortune to compare porn and pawn and politics within a few days of each other a few weeks ago, and came to the unexpected realisation that there’s a blurring of the edges around the jewellery retail environment in our country.

I didn’t get to see any porn of course, but at the CMJ Business Conference in Birmingham on October 2 we had a fascinating and amusing presentation from Jacqueline Gold, chief executive of Ann Summers, who charted the rise and rise of her business and its focus on people, products, and presentation. Sounds familiar? It did to the CMJ members too.

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I participated in a Q&A session where I was able to update the members on hallmarking numbers, precious metal prices and scrap gold returns. There were general concerns about tough economic conditions and the high price of diamonds, precious metals and Swiss branded watches, but what was so striking was the overall mood of optimism and can-do from everyone there.

The CMJ then raised over £11,000 for charity that night, for Cyclists Fighting Cancer to buy new bikes and trikes for very sick children suffering from the disease.

A week or so later I was also a guest speaker at the much bigger Pawnbrokers Conference in London. This time no Jacqueline Gold to compete with, but Michael Portillo gave a wry and funny look at politics and his view of the UK’s economic prospects in the next few years.

The pawnbrokers had a hugely overlapping agenda with the more traditional retail members of the CMJ. They too were interested in people, products and presentation. High precious metal and diamond prices, scrap gold returns and Swiss watch prices were also front of mind. And just like the CMJ members they were optimistic and ready for a good Christmas trading period.

The Pawnbrokers were equally charitable towards children, raising over £28,000 for the NSPCC on the night.

Both groups had differences but also a surprising amount in common. Both have an important part to play in the future of our industry.

 

Birmingham Assay Office chief executive Michael Allchin is a regular guest columnist for Professional Jeweller. If you work in the jewellery industry and are interested in writing a guest column then email the editor at rachael.taylor@itp.com with your idea. 

 

 

 

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