Buying group’s financial provisions put in place to protect members.

The creation of a buffer fund on the Company of Master Jewellers’ balance sheet has been credited with protecting approved suppliers from the fallout of Leslie Cass Jewellers going bust.

For several years, suppliers have contributed to the fund, which can be called upon to assist either retail or supplier members of the CMJ in distress.


In a briefing with Professional Jeweller, CMJ chief executive Willie Hamilton suggested that the fund might have been used to assist Leslie Cass Jewellers if it had notified the group of its financial troubles in sufficient time. As events unfolded, Hamilton said that the best that could be achieved was to prevent losses to suppliers, with knock on benefits for retail members.

Hamilton said: “Part of the CMJ’s strategy in recent years has been to make adequate financial provisions to provide for such an eventuality.”

Some suppliers to Sheffield-based Leslie Cass Jewellers were exposed to major losses as it fell into administration with debts running to six figures.

Pandora, the retailer’s biggest supplier, praised the CMJ for intervening.

Pandora European president Peter Andersen said: “As the key jewellery brand within Leslie Cass Jeweller, the liquidation of this business would have hit us hard if we had not been a CMJ approved supplier. Even though Pandora is a world leading jewellery brand, to have the trust and confidence that Pandora will be recompensed by the CMJ shows how beneficial it is for suppliers to work with the CMJ. On behalf of Pandora, we appreciate the efforts that Willie Hamilton has put into the case on our behalf."

Ti Sento’s UK brand manager Judith Lockwood added: “The CMJ were not obliged to recompense us as a supplier and to receive assurances from the group mean a great deal to Ti Sento and IBB Amsterdam. It is just one example of the great support we have received from the CMJ to support the growth of the Ti Sento brand in the UK.”

It has emerged since the closure of Leslie Cass that the CMJ attempted to rescue the failing retailer, but preventing contagion to other retail members and approved suppliers was all that could be achieved in a very tight timeframe.

CMJ chairman Stephen Hughes said: “Although the demise of Leslie Cass Jewellers was a sudden shock to the group, I would like to praise the work that our chief executive Willie Hamilton has put into this case. It was sadly too late to save this individual retailer, but the long hours of negotiation he has put into helping our approved suppliers no matter how large or small they are has shown the benefits of working with CMJ.

"Five years ago, the CMJ would not have had the funds to support these suppliers. Willie Hamilton has the full confidence and backing of the CMJ Board of Directors and our faith in his leadership over the restructuring of CMJ over the past five years has proven invaluable."



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