For Andy Twigg and Scot Walker, the directors of Parify Ltd, good lighting is the difference between making money and falling behind. With energy bills, excessive heat and stock degradation to consider, we find out why an electrical makeover could be worth its weight in gold.
“I’ve been involved in lighting since day dot,” jokes Scot Walker as he explains the origins of his bespoke lighting company, Parify Ltd.
Founded just three years ago, Parify was built on the premise of developing specialist solutions for different sectors; including jewellery retail, automotive showrooms and beauty salons. With a lack of practical and available options for jewellers, Walker, along with his business partner Andy Twigg, decided to create these options and work has been flooding in as a result. Now, Parify can turn to Drakes in Plymouth, Steffans in Northampton, Wakefields in Horsham and John Dyson in Leeds, among others, as examples of its lighting in action. Having used platforms such as Jewellery & Watch Birmingham and the Company of Master Jewellers’ spring buying meeting to showcase its wares, Parify has benefited significantly from in-person demonstrations and word-of-mouth recommendations.
With Walker at the helm of engineering, Twigg in charge of the numbers, and both spearheading the sales process, it’s perhaps surprising that they don’t want their work to be seen…but not for the reasons you might think. As Walker explains: “If it is a job we’ve done then you shouldn’t be able to see any lighting. We are really of the belief that lighting shouldn’t be seen or heard. It should be obvious by its effect upon jewellery, but not something that will make customers squint because it is so bright.”
Walker admits that improving sales is the name of the game, but with reduced energy bills, lower heat generation and fewer instances of stock degradation as by-products, it is easy to see why retailers are investing. “The biggest problems retailers have is twofold,” Walker explains, “the first is the consumption of electricity, because old types of lights are notoriously hungry for power, and secondly the heat as a by-product.”
He adds: “Old traditional light bulbs emit ultraviolet light, which can bleach watch straps, and infra-red light, which makes dark-coloured watches absorb heat causing the mechanisms to dry out.”
To demonstrate his point, Walker highlights a recent customer who was spending thousands on servicing driedout watches before they could be sold. The resulting losses were significant, and Walker knew he could reduce this significantly with cooler lighting options.
He explains: “We introduced them to a cool running light, which doesn’t produce any heat and no infra-red and ultraviolet light. Plus, it offers a quarter of the power consumption, so it was a win-win for the jeweller.”
Creating an environment that is welcoming and stress-free for customers is of paramount importance to any retailer, but this goes beyond the comfortable seating and smiling staff. When LED lights were first developed, retailers typically chose a cool-white variant — a harsh white colour with hints of blue. While this might sound suitable for adding shine to jewellery, this type of light mimics bright sunshine, often causing customers to squint.
This type of sterile, almost clinical, ambience is something Walker seeks to replace with Parify’s lighting solutions, while helping retailers to increase dwell time within their stores. He explains: “When you are trying to get people to open their wallets and spend vast amounts of cash, you don’t want them on edge. This is why ambient lighting is so important in a store.”
In contrast to the bright, white light needed in cabinets to sell product, ambient lighting needs to sell the store itself, which is why dimmable systems have proved popular in recent refits. Walker points to two prominent makeovers recently that have invested in this type of circuit; helping to light the stores during the day and create an instant party atmosphere for evening events.
In addition to making diamonds sparkle, Parify helps its customers save money by installing more energy-efficient lights. Walker remarks: “In a typical jeweller’s window they will have about 30 to 40 metal halide lamps, and this has been an industry staple for years. They are 150 watts, but they actually consume about 180 watts. We replace these with 30 watt LED lights, so that’s a massive energy saving, especially when you consider they [the lights] could be on for up to 12 hours a day.”
With Corporate Social Responsibility on the lips of retailers, it’s clear to see that making a lighting change can put business on the road to a more sustainable and energy efficient future. In some cases, retailers can drive their usage down from 50,000 watts-per-day to somewhere in the region of 2-3,000 watts. This also leads to much lower heat production; reducing intolerable heat in display cabinets and potentially saving excessive air-conditioning bills.
Walker explains: “Staff have had terrible burns from halogen bulbs in the past as they can burn at over 200 degrees. We were in one store where you couldn’t stay in the window for more than a couple of minutes because it was so hot.”
Of course, Parify is focused on the visual and aesthetic benefits of its work too, with Walker highlighting the importance of choosing the right light for white gold and platinum jewellery in comparison to yellow gold. “The jewellers’ window is a bit like a market stall; you arrive on your pitch, set up your stall and wait for people to come in and buy. If you’re not showing your product in the right way with great lighting, you’re really not giving it the best chance.”
Ripping out fixtures and stripping back displays to add new bulbs isn’t always practical, so Parify has built its business on making changes without the need for remodelling. This includes retrofitting cabinets with its Bridge, Starmesh or Linea solutions, or using its adaptor plates to fit new lights to pre-existing spaces in woodwork and displays. As Walker notes: “It’s a retrofit solution with the jeweller’s wallet in mind.”
So, what about the businesses that have already said yes to a Parify onceover? The company’s website is full of case-studies from satisfied customers, with Dominic Wakefield of Wakefields in Horsham, commenting: “We have noticed a huge reduction in heat generated throughout the shop and behind the windows, which we used to use aircon to cool. The illumination is stronger and more consistent and the gemstones really sparkle under the LED strips. We were very pleased with the service provided by Parify, from the initial contact, fully itemised quotes and speed of installation. We look forward to working with them again for our Brighton store.”
A similarly glowing review came from Haydn Welch of Haydn Welch Jewellers in Taunton, who noted sales were up 25% at Christmas following the introduction of new lighting.
He commented: “It’s a simple choice, a couple more diamond rings or great lighting. We chose the lighting. We had just sold a £4,000 diamond ring and spent the proceeds on the lights rather than replace the ring. It was the best choice we have ever made.”
Another jeweller on Parify’s books has seen its diamond sales bounce 30% since its windows were made-over, while another sold a selection of antique diamond rings that had sat in its window for 18-months in just a few short weeks after its lights were updated.
With the high possibility of increasing sales, reducing costs and encouraging consumer dwell time, Walker has found more and more retailers are keen to invest. He concludes: “Some people say our products are expensive, but we consider them to be value for money because a lot of technology and development has gone into them. Often, after they [the retailers] have seen our products, it changes from a ‘would like’ offer to a ‘must have’. When they see the effect it has on their jewellery, they wonder, ‘why didn’t I do this before?'”
This feature originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Professional Jeweller. Read it here.