Stephen Hughes, the former chairman of the Company of Master Jewellers, says the buying group is not in turmoil, it’s in a transition.
Hughes, who resigned from his position as chairman of the CMJ in June, is optimistic for the group’s future, stating that Hamilton has secured deals which will see the CMJ return to profit immediately.
Speaking to Professional Jeweller, Hughes states: “The Company of Master jewellers is a great concept and a great home for the forward-thinking independent jeweller. Whilst this year’s results have seen the first loss in many a long year, the fundamentals of the business are very sound. The current board’s decision to refocus on the core of the group’s activities and scale back the expansion plans during this uncertain time is prudent and along with the deals Wille has secured that run for the next few years, will see the group return to profit immediately.”
“So whilst it may seem from the outside that the company is in turmoil I think a better word to describe it would be transition,” Hughes continues. “Willie and I have had a great time leading the CMJ, many wins and a few losses along the way, but as I reflect on where we were ten years ago and where the company is now I know we are both proud to have played a part in the extraordinary story of Britain’s leading buying group that is the Company of Master Jewellers.”
Hughes says Hamilton has managed to grow the reputation of the CMJ within the jewellery industry and made it a voice not just for members, but for independent jewellers as a whole. As such, the CMJ now boasts of 150 members, representing 400 individual shops across the UK and Ireland, with over 200 approved suppliers.
Hughes recalls: “When I first joined the board I was tasked with growing the membership of the group. In the first year of working relentlessly, sending out invites and cold calling jewellers across the UK, I managed to find two new members and one existing member retired.So for all my efforts, we had a net gain of one. Now, after ten years of Willie’s stewardship there is rarely a board meeting where the board are not considering at least two or three applications such is the reputation of both Willie and the CMJ today.”
He concludes: “For me, that is the highlight of Willies tenure that in this challenging world of increasing competition he has turned the CMJ into the first choice home for the independent family owned jeweller. In addition to this, Willie’s championing of greater ethical standards and transparency in the jewellery supply chain is a legacy that he will not only leave within CMJ but in the UK jewellery industry as a whole. He is a pioneer in promoting Fairtrade gold and responsibly sourced gemstones and I am certain that he will continue this great work in his new role.”