River Mounts launched in 2005 with just two business partners on a mission to increase the range of mounts and availability of products in the market. From the get-go, the business wanted growth to be steered by customer feedback and meeting the industry’s needs wherever possible.
Over the last 13 years River Mounts has grown rapidly. The company is now one of the biggest providers of diamond-set mounts in the UK, with offices in London, Birmingham, and Antwerp; eight sales agents on the road; and 27 members of staff dedicated to customer support.
While the team and range of products have grown from the modest portfolio the company started out with, the heart of the business has not changed, and today River Mounts is known as not only a customer-focused supplier, but a customer-first supplier.
The River Mounts journey has been all about listening.
Retailers told River Mounts they didn’t want to wait weeks for stock to arrive, so the company now has trade counters and offices filled with tens of thousands of items that are available for immediate delivery.
Trade professionals also said they wanted easy-to-use trade catalogues. River Mounts responded to this by producing materials which are clear and concise.
And of course, as the market has changed, River Mounts has evolved and adapted too. For example, clients can now send design ideas via WhatsApp, a service many find to be invaluable, and soon everyone will be able to use an app to browse stock in live time.
The truth is, River Mounts does not just exist to sell products — but it exists to make the retailer’s job easier.
“Our ethos and vision is simply to help customers sell lovely jewellery in their stores,” shares River Mounts sales agent, Ian McWilliams. “We aim to do this by continually investing in huge stocks so customers can borrow on approval or buy products without any lead times, by continuing to invest in and increasing the number of customer facing staff so that waiting times at our trade counters are kept to a minimum, and part of our vision is to massively increase the capabilities of our website including enabling customers to piggy back onto our stock system and reserve stock easily on their phone or laptop.
“Our overall culture is one in which we always want to say ‘yes’ to whatever our customers ask us, wherever humanly possible.”
Rather than just launching new designs and creating products which will hopefully sell, River Mounts likes to do things more from a client’s perspective. As such, the team listen very carefully to what customers are asking for — whether that’s new styles, trends, or marketing materials to assist retailers with sales.
The question is always — how can we help jewellers secure bolster business?
For many retailers this will involve giving them stock on long-term approval, while for others it will be helping to source diamonds and put a bespoke product together.
“It is all about reading what the market needs, reacting to it and working really hard to ensure we have systems and products in place to meet those needs,” shares McWilliams. “It is an ongoing process which is both absorbing, challenging and very exciting.”
He adds: “Quality is also at the heart of what we do. It wouldn’t matter how much stock we carried, how easy it was to reserve stock online or how many agents we had on the road — if the quality is not the highest then it would all be to no avail.”
In terms of products, traditional mico-set bands continue to do well for River Mounts, while grain-set (particularly with a millegrain detail) have increased in popularity, with channel-set holding steady too.
The business has also experienced strong demand for its new U shaped collet range.
Over the next 12 months the firm expects shaped bands to drive sales, alongside its new fancy, delicate styles, which can also be bought as a self-purchases and work as stacking rings.
“We are finding that trends change fast and we have to change with them, so reading the market is important,” shares McWilliams. He adds:
“For example, along with the fancy delicate styles, we have noticed that bigger, more expensive eternity rings are selling well — so we have to make sure we have them ‘on demand’ as it were.”
Internally River Mounts is trialling a ‘Stock Finder’ app where customers will be able to tap into the company’s livestock system and see what’s available, reserve items, and decide if they would like products sent out on approval or an invoice.
Once it launches to the wider trade, clients will be able to view live customer prices, and use the app on either a PC or mobile device.
So how does River Mounts feel about the year ahead?
“The first few months of the year are traditionally strong for bridal jewellery so in anticipation of that we have been growing the amount we stock so again our customers can gain an advantage in the marketplace,” reveals McWilliams.
“There are challenging times ahead for retail and indeed the UK as a whole due to the Brexit process and business in general does not like uncertainty. We have to be prepared for any eventuality as far as possible.”
As a whole the company looks to close the gap between retailers and suppliers, as at the end of the day they are working towards one common goal — to sell jewellery.
This all comes together in the firm’s motto, ‘Our ring – your sale’.
McWilliams tells Professional Jeweller: “Clients are amazed at how flexible we are to work with and how we can help them succeed in so many aspects of their business.”
He concludes: “We are not just ‘another ring mount company’ by any stretch of the imagination.”