Your staff are your key to survival, says Avril Plant.

By Avril Plant

In tough economic times such as the present, the question upon most businesses’ lips is ‘how do we survive’?


Tightening one’s belt may be the first port of call, however, for some the safety rope is to invest. Hard to believe I know, but sometimes the key to investing is to focus internally. The answer to survival was right in front of our eyes: our staff.

As with any retail outfit, training of staff can transform your business from the sullen almost back-alley store with a permanent black cloud looming above, the type you would quickly walk past not even daring to glance at the overcrowded window display; to an inviting, charismatic and overall enticing shop. You may even find yourself a regular browser, and possibly, more often than your bank balance should allow, an indulger of all things gold and silver. A hovering magpie springs to mind, waiting and preying on its next steal.

That transformation took place in our own store through the investment we made in training our staff to the highest of standards. Already armed with a Fellowship of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain and a Fellowship from the National Association of Goldsmiths Institute of Registered Valuers, we had no concerns of our expertise in the jewellery industry; however other aspects of the business including bookkeeping and retail management needed building.

The training provided by the National Association of Goldsmiths in the form of a management diploma gave our team the skills to make substantial changes to not just the running of the business but to grow our customer base, reinvent our window displays and significantly increase our turnover. Since then the importance of funding the overall development of all members of staff has become a deep rooted ethos for Plants the Jewellers.

We strongly believe that educating and encouraging learning in the workplace, outside the traditional in-house training methods, and the incorporation of external qualifications will safe-guard the future of retail jewellers and sales staff. All in the hope that if the recession hit with a force not to be reckoned with, we have provided the next generation with a feather to fly with; one which is sought-after, one which takes time and dedication to retrieve and one which is certainly not easy to destroy.


This guest column was taken from the September issue of Professional Jeweller magazine. If you work within the British jewellery industry and would like to write a column for the magazine then email the editor at with an outline of your idea.