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BREAKING NEWS: Willie Hamilton steps down from the CMJ

The Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ), the UK’s largest jewellery buying group, has announced that chief executive Willie Hamilton is to step down from the organisation effective today (July 31).

According to a statement from CMJ chairman Michael Aldridge, Hamilton, who marked 10 years in his role earlier this year, has decided to “pursue a career opportunity closer to his new home in the South of England”. This new appointment will be detailed by Hamilton in “due course”.

Speaking exclusively to Retail Jeweller, Aldridge confirmed that Hamilton leaves the company today and will not be present at the CMJ’s summer meeting and AGM which is scheduled to take place this weekend (August 6-7) at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole.

Following Hamilton’s departure from the organisation, Terry Boot, who has been working with CMJ recently as head of finance and business operations, will take over as interim chief executive on a day-to-day basis until a successor can be appointed.

Boot has a background in the footwear industry, having worked as chief financial officer with high street chain Jones Bootmaker and out of town footwear retailer Brantano. 

According to figures seen by Retail Jeweller, which have already been circulated to members of the group, the CMJ is expected to report a loss before taxation of £73,123 for the 12 months ended March 31, 2017 at its forthcoming AGM, despite total sales of £183.5m and a turnover of £5.8m during the period. 

Under Hamilton, sales through the CMJ rose significantly, largely as a result of the buying group’s current relationship with Danish jewellery behemoth Pandora.

In the previous year’s full-year results, representing the 12 months to March 31, 2016, sales through the group rose 9.1% to £166m up from £152.7m the prior year while gross profit grew to £2.44m, up 6.6% from £2.29m in the 2015 full year

Hamilton also implemented a raft of commercial divisions during his time with the CMJ, including the creation of jewellery specialist PR agency, Facets PR and, more recently, the setting up of a distribution arm together with the acquisition of design and data businesses, in February 2016.

Aldridge added: “During Willie Hamilton’s tenure, he brought a wealth of previous industry experience in operations and marketing to the CMJ. We wish him well and all the best for the future.”

Hamilton said: “After ten years, I now have a new career ahead of me. I wish all the members and suppliers within the CMJ Group well, as they continue to build on the success of the UK’ biggest jewellery buying group.”

The news of Hamilton’s departure comes not that long after the resignation of former CMJ board chairman Stephen Hughes, who stepped down in June. Hughes had been chair of the CMJ board for 12 years and was succeeded by Aldridge of independent retailer Neil & Barker in Widnes.

The CMJ, which is headquartered in Rugby, has 158 retail members representing in excess of 400 individual shops across the UK and Ireland with over 200 approved jewellery and watch suppliers.

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