The Scottish retailers on how they are maintaining a competitive edge.
While others may have put expansion plans on ice, Scottish retailer Chisholm Hunter has made the move south this year. Its directors Harry and Tracey Brown were also named Retail Stars in this year’s Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2012, in association with The Company of Master Jewellers as Ti Sento Retail Stars.
Professional Jeweller: Being a jewellery retailer will always have its highs – what have been your highlights of the year so far?
Harry Brown: There have been so many recently, it’s been terrific. Winning Multiple Jeweller of the Year has been a real highlight as it means a lot to the team to receive such recognition. The opening of our Bluewater store has given us great satisfaction and just as much of a buzz as when we opened our first shop. Always exciting.
PJ: Have you hit any challenges along the way? And if so how have you overcome them?
HB: The recession is always throwing up challenges for us along with the rest of the retail sector. But by investing in our sales professionals and senior management team, and the business in general, we have the tools to provide our customers with the luxury shopping experience they expect from us. Customer service should never be compromised especially today when, quite rightly people’s expectations are higher. I’m a great believer that even the smallest investment will help position us in a better place and continue to provide us with a competitive edge.
PJ: Chisholm Hunter has hit London. Tell us a bit about why you decided to expand to the South and what does opening in London add to your business?
HB: It’s been a long held ambition to open in Kent and when the opportunity arose to take space in such a highly prestigious shopping centre, it just felt right in every way.
PJ: You also scooped a top award at the UK Jewellery Awards – how did it feel to win?
Tracey Brown: It was wonderful to be recognised by our peers. The atmosphere throughout the business since returning from London with the award has been fantastic with every single member of the team having contributed to our success over the years.
PJ: You also set up shop at the Moto GP, which is an unusual location to showcase watch and jewellery retail wares. Are you always on the lookout for alternative routes to market?
TB: We have a special relationship with our brand partners and this opportunity brought to us by Tissot was a great chance to test this unique approach and develop our brand ambassadors through a prestigious and exciting event. We were delighted to be invited by Tissot to participate with them in this way and we feel sure this strengthened both the brand and our partnership. All our brand relationships are important to us and we are constantly looking to develop these and identify innovative ways of working.
PJ: How would you describe your approach to work?
HB: Focused, driven and open to change
PJ: Working as couple can have its challenges – how do the two of you manage your work-life balance and how do you relax off the job?
HB: It is always a pleasure and a privilege to head up a business which has such dedicated and focused professionals. To relax, I spend time with my family and when weather permitting I enjoy sailing on the west coast of Scotland.
PJ: After a year of awards, accolades and growth, what are your plans for your business for the next year?
HB: To grow and improve the business at all levels. Our people will continue to be our priority with their growth and development at the forefront of our investment plans.