In this life you often have to be brave and seize opportunities when they arise in order to move forwards and thrive. That’s exactly what Allum & Sidaway did when the perfect building became available opposite the Salisbury store. Here, professional jeweller sat down with managing director, Jason Allum, and design director, Ivonna Poplanska, to hear how they turned their dream into a reality by taking a chance and not looking back…
The UK is filled with many excellent and innovative jewellery retailers, which Professional Jeweller has the honour of visiting on a regular basis, but it must be said that the new Allum & Sidaway flagship store in Salisbury is one that really stands out.
That’s not to knock any other store the Professional Jeweller team has recently been to, but to really highlight the great work Allum & Sidaway has done with its new premium space.
You would have no idea that the night before opening the team had to camp out in store to get everything ready for the scheduled launch. Looking at images of the store just 24 hours before allows you to really appreciate the hard work everyone put in to create the luxurious flagship boutique it is today.
Rewind a year and a bit and you discover this store really is the result of a determination to turn a dream into reality. The team spent the best part of three quarters of a year planning, researching and getting everything in place.
While the jewellery retailer did hire a design company for the project, managing director, Jason Allum, and design director, Ivonna Poplanska, knew from the start that they didn’t want to sit back and let another company come up with some designs for them to choose from. Instead, the duo sourced everything — from display cabinets in America, to the soft furnishings, materials and lighting. They even sourced the spiral staircase themselves, which took about six to eight months to complete.
Jason Allum wasn’t specifically looking for a new store, but when the grade II listed period building opposite Allum & Sidaway’s Salisbury shop became available, he jumped at the chance to secure it for a flagship store.
“It was an opportunist moment,” Allum explains, “our lease was running out in our old store, we had a year to go, and this property came on the market and we thought — if we don’t do it now, we will never have another opportunity to do something which was really a dream at the end of the day. We wanted to create something that was very, very special. “
He continues: “We couldn’t resist the building and it was a case of having to do it there and then and not looking back and feeling brave about it. So we decided to go for it and were lucky enough to secure the building.” From actually buying the store and opening in the middle of November, the process of setting up the shop took about a year and a half.
The majority of this time was spent researching what the managing director loves about the jewellery industry, and about retail, in order to discover what was best for the Allum & Sidaway flagship.
He explains: “We didn’t just hire a design company to come up with a couple of designs, we sourced everything and went to a company called Axium to make our dream come true.”
“When we went to them we already had everything that we wanted them to do and we had already sourced our jewellery displays from three different companies, and we were being a bit innovative about it,” adds Poplanska.
Everything you see in the flagship today has been placed inside the store after careful consideration. For example, Allum and Poplanska spent months sourcing the chandeliers to make sure they were exactly right, they also opted for magnetic displays to guarantee the jewellery stays in place and chose the most difficult and expensive spiral staircase in order to create a link to the upstairs which was sturdy, yet inviting. Next to the staircase is a mirror which goes all the way from the bottom of the store to the top and allows consumers to catch a glimpse of the second level as soon as they come in.
“We have seen on a number of occasions, when people come in they can see what is happening upstairs straight away and that’s inviting,” explains Poplanska. “Also the position of this spiral staircase is immediately inviting to come up. It was always a little bit worrying that people wouldn’t venture upstairs. But, about 95% do, because it’s inviting.”
To add to the appeal of the second floor, Allum & Sidaway has exclusively placed a bridal boutique and watch gallery upstairs. Therefore, customers looking for bridal or time pieces will need to venture up in order to see the store’s full offering.
The whole store has been thoroughly thought through to create a retail destination. The flagship has not only been designed to take consumers on a smooth journey past every piece on display, but it has also been sectioned to offer consumers the opportunity shop in an environment they feel comfortable in.
Poplanska explains: “We have utilised both floors of the stores very cleverly, and we have used a zoning system. So we have created a standalone jewellery brand boutique, and separate area for the fine jewellery brands, and upstairs there is a separate bridal boutique and a separate watch room, so when the customers come to buy a silver jewellery brand, they are comfortable in their environment, similarly to the engagement ring and wedding ring couples who come to look for a specific product, there is a dedicated area.
“Therefore, all of the customers can live very comfortably within the store at the same time. There is nobody buying a safety chain, next to a couple who have come specifically to buy an engagement ring, and that is also something that we have done for future proofing in case we would like to change these specific areas, it is very easy for us to do so.”
Everything Allum & Sidaway has done has centred around a vision to create a luxurious and welcoming retail environment. Because of this, the colour scheme was very important (with the company settling on rich purple and a soft grey) and a velvet carpet was chosen to add to the creation of a space which consumers feel comfortable to spend as much time as they want in. The store also has five seated areas for clients to sit down and relax.
Judging by how business has been since Allum & Sidaway opened the doors to its new flagship it would be safe to say consumers have indeed felt very welcome.
“Business has been really good,” says Allum. “I think it is a challenging time with everything that is going on in the world, but certainly Salisbury, since Christmas, we are looking around about 85% up on being in our old location. Allum mentions that he has noticed a change in the way consumers are shopping. He adds: “If you take from when we were over the road, literally, just 150 metres away, during the first six weeks of our opening our diamond sales were up over 900%, our precious jewellery sales were up by 145% and our watch sales went up by over 300%, and that is just the beginning. When people get to know us and know our team, even more so I am sure that will grow.”
In addition, the store’s bespoke side of the business has been performing really well, with Poplanska noting a spike in redesigns. She says: “I am seeing now, multiple clients every day,” she says. “It is sometimes 10 people a week for the first appointment and people love it because they get to reuse something that is sentimental to them, and they have a piece that is created specifically for them.”
Following an initial appointment and the store showing the customer three designs to choose from, Allum & Sidaway has a 99% success rate as consumers look to transform their old jewels into new and personal pieces.
With this project just at the start, Allum tells Professional Jeweller there are currently no new stores on the horizon. Instead, the next 12 months will be spent strengthening the flagship, hosting customer events, working on the stores he already has and celebrating Allum & Sidaway’s 75th anniversary in style.