Q&A: Richard Hill, Bering UK

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On the move into jewellery with interchangeable range Arctic Symphony.

Professional Jeweller caught up with Bering UK managing director Richard Hill at Jewellery & Watch London at the Saatchi Gallery, where he discussed the growth of the brand, rolling out its new jewellery collection and crafting in precious metals.

Professional Jeweller: Arctic Symphony is the new jewellery collection from Bering. The range looks like stacking rings but we understand the concept is something more?
Richard Hill: Yes, the rings are actually interchangeable, so while they can be stacked it’s about being able to change the look of the ring using different inner and outer sections. You start with a wide or narrow outer, which can unscrew so you can change the inner section of the ring for a different colour or texture [sandblasted finishes, mesh or Swarovski crystal set]. It’s really competitively priced, from £49 for the outer. The least expensive inner would be the mesh at £20, or you can create a whole new ring for a total of £69, or add two different inners for £125.

PJ: Has the collection helped to win add-on sales with Bering watch customers? 
RH: We actually soft-launched the collection in the UK in February but at the time we didn’t have everything finished and ready, so now we are making a big push of Arctic Symphony. In Germany, we launched it in September 2013 and not only is Bering the fastest-growing watch brand in Germany, the Arctic Symphony range makes up about a third of the brand’s total business in the country. In Sweden the ring range makes up about 60% of sales, which considering the investment is minimal, shows it is bringng repeat sales over and over.

PJ: How has it been received so far in the UK?

RH: We’ve had a few retailers take it on early, and they are selling well. A number report that they are selling the inners as stacking rings alone. At present we’re in about 22 doors in the UK with Arctic Symphony but 400 with the watches. We haven’t got representation in any of the multiples yet, which is the next target for me. We plan to follow the growth we’ve recorded in Germany with the jewellery, but we can’t afford to take out eyes off the watches. Realistically within 18 months to two years, Arctic Symphony should double our business worldwide. There is also no reason why we can’t have different doors for the jewellery than the watches.

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PJ: What kind of retailers have been you pitching the range to so far?
RH: The reaction from those we’ve shown it to has been fantastic and we’re seeing some retailers interested that we might not have considered. John Pearce of Johnny Rocket came to have a look [after winning the Independent Buyer award in the Bering Buyers Power list at J&WL] and said he wants to put it in his store, even though it’s not the type of store we would have considered before.

PJ: How often will Bering launch new elements within the range?
RH: The stardust [sparkly sandblasted] finish has just been introduced, but the range is not seasonal in terms of having an autumn-winter or spring-summer range. The thing with Bering is that its co-owners are both very creative which means they think of an idea, get samples made up and get things out there. I have recently seen pre-production samples of Arctic Symphony bangles, which is exciting. We have also made a few of the rings in precious metals, using gold and diamonds instead of steel and Swarovski crystals. For retailers, knowing we can offer these rings is great, and they look stunning in precious metals.

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