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Houlden hails successful start to the year with well-attend event

Meryl Halls Booksellers Association of UK & Ireland

Luxury jewellery buying group, Houlden, has hailed its first event of the year a success.

The first Houlden London Event of the new decade followed the theme of aspirational planning in order to meet new challenges in the retail arena and provide for future growth.  Key messages included the laying down of strong foundations, taking control, drawing inspiration from success and sharing to prosper.

The three-day symposium started with a Members Principals Meeting, a new initiative for 2020. Each Member was invited to put forward one colleague to take part in a round table networking discussion. Motivating and inspirational debate enabled the authentic sharing of best practices. All members attending enthused about the meeting, claiming it to be a highly productive couple of hours, which set a positive mindset for the following two days.

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Director of Michael Jones Jewellery, Matthew Tyrrell, says: “The challenges faced by small business, especially those involved in retail, can be quite daunting; at times you can feel like you are drowning in bureaucracy. To hear examples of good practise, how members are meeting challenges and most of all the peace of mind that we are not alone, was of great benefit.”

A Members Day of talks followed with peers and industry experts providing valuable insights in both the macro retail arena and the jewellery industry, which Members could draw on to develop goals, form solid strategies, identify opportunities and strengthen their retail focus. Time and attention – both scarce resources – were given to consider these goals in the face of changing consumer habits, Brexit and an evolving retail landscape.

Sophie Michael, national head of retail at BDO LP opened the day with her Retail Trading Update 2020. Michael gave an insightful review of lessons learnt last year as well as identifying five key trends for retailers to consider. These included the new consumer landscape, the effect of convenience and affordability, the health and wellness arena, the importance of sustainable and ethical and finally the need to be smart and connected for better efficiency.

Peter Gordon, head of government relations for Barclays Investment Bank provided a real understanding of the political processes behind the Brexit effect and what retailers can expect from the future trading position with the EU. He encouraged members to think differently about the UK-EU relationship in order to best prepare for and maximise the outcomes.

Meryl Halls, managing director, Booksellers Association of the UK & Ireland Ltd and vice chair of the Independent Retailers Confederation, bought a first-hand retailer’s experience to the rostra with her talk on Bookselling: Surviving The High Street Disruptors. She shared  the activities which bookshops adopt to counter disruptors in the market and encouraged members to appreciate the benefit of collaborative effort, creative thinking and forging partnership projects and initiatives.

Lastly, NAJ chief exec, Simon Forrester,  spoke about the NAJ benefits and how membership can help jewellers manage disruption through working together as a more substantial unit.

The Houlden Supplier Exhibition on day three was attended by 40 internationally renowned suppliers. Both suppliers and members enjoyed networking and making new as well as renewing healthy business connections.

Houlden chief excecutive, Helen Haddow, concludes: “A full house of members benefitted from three days of positive and inspirational collaboration with both trade and retail partners. Their feedback reaffirmed the advantages and strength that they benefit from by being part of a Group – the all-important Houlden Advantage. As a Group we are all moving forward with a confidence gained from the support of each other.”

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The author Stacey Hailes

Editor, Professional Jeweller

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