CMJ boss Willie Hamilton on preparation, knowledge and courage.

By Willie Hamilton

There are three key ingredients to running a successful retail business: preparation, knowledge and courage.


The economy may be in slowdown, but many retail businesses are moving faster than ever before. As chief executive of The Company of Master Jewellers, I’ve seen some of the best retailers in The CMJ moving really quickly over the past few months, by investing in their business through major refits, extensive staff training and eye-catching marketing campaigns.

These successful retailers have one eye on the problems they already face, but, mindful of those who have been myopic, they are also looking out for new threats and new opportunities. They’re planning for success built on preparation, knowledge and courage.

Networking is also hugely important. It has been said that more business decisions occur over lunch and dinner than at any other time, yet no MBA courses are ever given on the subject. And I’ve witnessed extensive networking between a core number of CMJ retailers, particularly over the past couple of years as the jewellery retail landscape has changed and is changing so rapidly. Most of this networking has been focused on building the two main components of success: preparation and knowledge.

Visiting fellow CMJ member shops, talking about refit experiences, new product ranges, staff training initiatives, customer relationships and branding with like-minded and open-minded fellow retailers has also provided the CMJ’s leading retailers with the third component of success: courage. It can be lonely out there as an independent retailer, but the collective networking of CMJ members through store visits, telephone calls and discussion on the intranet provides real benefits.

I’m sure that the retail trade must feel it is like walking up a fast moving down escalator at the moment. But you can keep moving at a pace if you work in teams and provide each other with support when you tire a little. That is what we aim to do within The CMJ.


This column was taken from the March issue of Professional Jeweller magazine. To read a digital version of this issue online click here. If you’d like to write a column for Professional Jeweller email the editor at