The duo behind the UK's first Ti Sento franchise boutique.

Allison and Michael Aldridge are not afraid of hard work. The husband-and-wife team have turned Neil & Barker into the preeminent destination for affordable luxury jewellery and watch brands in Widnes, since they took over the store 30 years ago.

Not satisfied with this success, the pair took on the challenge of competing with hundreds of other retailers in Manchester’s Trafford Centre, launching the UK’s first franchised Ti Sento store, carefully positioned close to well-known, high-footfall fashion retailers.


The opening of the Ti Sento shop has not been without its difficulties, but Allison and Michael bring a wealth of experience to the operation. “Having a Pandora store [in St Helens] has given us the skill and experience of running a mono-brand store and we used this to help put together the Ti Sento store, but brand awareness and marketing have proved to be a significant challenge to the business,” they admit.

Despite this workload, the Aldridges also manage to devote a considerable amount of time to charity. This year is the 50th anniversary for Neil & Barker (Allison took over the family business in 1984), and they wanted to mark the milestone with a charity golf event. “It took a lot of time and organisation to make a successful event, but I am glad to say we raised a significant sum of money for our chosen charity, Coram North West Life Education,” they reveal.

Golf is a shared passion outside of work, but they also have their own interests where business and pleasure overlap. Michael has been president of his local Rotary Club, as well as a Paul Harris Fellow. “This is his way of putting something back into the community and he gets a tremendous amount of satisfaction helping others less fortunate than himself,” says Allison.

Allison and Michael Aldridge were named IJL Retail Stars in the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2014, in association with headline sponsor Pandora and principle partner The Company of Master Jewellers.

To read a digital version of the Hot 100 2014 book in full online, click here.