As the Ferris family opened the doors to another jewellery retail store last month, Professional Jeweller caught up with the company’s managing director Edward Ferris to discuss the new boutique and the company’s plans to celebrate on today…
Time and time again the Ferris family has proven to the jewellery industry that they know how to do business.
In 1974 Bill Ferris opened the family’s very first Swag store on Fife Road in Kingston selling a mixture of costume jewellery and cuddly toys. Although somewhat different to how Swag is now, the store was a success and in 1975, a second boutique was opened in Richmond. By 1983 the company moved its first shop to the Crown Arcade in Kingston.
A year after the move, in 1986, the Ferris family swapped designer jewellery for diamonds, and started running Swag as an independent jewellery store.
Fast forward from their humble beginnings in Kingston, to now, and selling teddy bears alongside jewellery seems like a distant memory.
42 years later the Ferris family has an expanding retail portfolio. At present the family business, now run by Bill’s two sons Tom and Edward Ferris, owns five Swag boutiques, 19 Pandora franchise stores and two Burrells Jewellers, one of which only opened in August.
Following the news that the company was opening the doors to a second Burrells, Professional Jeweller spoke to managing director, Edward Ferris, to discuss how business has been going in Tunbridge Wells since they acquired the fine jewellery and watch retailer, why Winchester felt like the best location for the new boutique, and how the company will be marking the new venture in classic Ferris family style!
The Ferris family bought Burrells in the summer of 2014, with Edward Ferris saying at the time that he had always admired the business, and that when Richard Burrells announced he was ready to hand over the reins, he wanted to be the first in the queue.
“One of the main reasons that we wanted to buy this store in Tunbridge Wells was to build relationships with the watch brands that we have been unable to do in the Swag stores because of the multiples already having those relationships,” Edward Ferris explains to Professional Jeweller. “So we took it on. It was slow to start with, but it’s been very successful in the last 12 months. We’ve got a strong manager in the store and that has turned everything around.”
Talking to Ferris, it is clear that the family are happy with how the Burrells business is going. It’s proven to be a great opportunity and a pivotal platform to sell luxury items alongside globally-recognised watch brands.
Two years on from taking over the Burrells business and the Ferris family have proudly opened a second store in their hometown. Edward Ferris has always had a vision to open more Burrells boutiques, but it was just down to choosing the right time and location. He explains: “It’s been an aspiration of mine for a while. We have looked at a couple of units over the last year and spoken to some of the brands about it, but finding the right location was the hardest thing to do. We fought very hard to get the location that we’ve got. It’s a great position in the high street.”
Ferris continues: “One thing that is very hard to find in Winchester is a good shop front. There are a lot of old buildings with very little in terms of window space which doesn’t work when you want to showcase brands and jewellery. Our shop has got a great frontage and it has also got different levels within it. As soon as we walked into the empty unit we were visualising how it could look, and it came to life really naturally.”
In true Ferris style the company will be marking the launch with an official day of celebrations on September 20. Throughout the summer the business has been running a competition with a number of the local schools, calling on kids from 11 years old to student age to design a watch for English explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes. The winners of this competition will be invited to attend an informal Q&A with Fiennes during the afternoon of the official opening.
In addition, the Ferris’ will be hosting a private event in The Great Hall, where the famous medieval Round Table is hung. In the evening 250 people will be invited to an exclusive presentation with Sir Ranulph Fiennes, where he will talk about his life and experiences, followed by a VIP party at the store. Names on the guest list will include local businesses, customers and friends.
“We are delighted to be bringing Burrells and an extensive collection of prestigious brands to Winchester,” says Ferris. “Opening a store in our hometown is such a highlight and we are so proud to have made it.”
The Winchester store introduces a new design concept for Burrells, which includes a private shopping suite and lavish rebrand. Future Burrells Jewellers will take on the new look too.
Inside the new boutique, prominent jewellery brands such as Mikimoto, Marco Bicego, Georg Jensen and Hearts On Fire sit elegantly alongside high-end watch brands and pre-owned watches. The business launched Mikimoto in Tunbridge Wells at the end of last year and it has been working really well, which is why the decision was made to have the luxury pearl pieces in the new store too.
Looking ahead, Ferris has lots of exciting plans up his sleeves and assures Professional Jeweller we will be hearing lots from the company over the next 12 months as they continue to re-evaluate the business and up their performance.