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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Terry Boot, chief executive, CMJ

Following the news that Terry Boot has been appointed the new chief executive of The Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ) and will officially take up the post on February 1, Ruth Faulkner caught up with him to hear about his plans in the role.

For Terry Boot, being appointed the new chief executive of the CMJ is something that, he says, he is incredibly excited about – although admits that the role won’t be without its challenges, particularly as he views this as a new chapter for the organisation.

Boot has actually been involved with CMJ for around seven months, being appointed to the position of interim head of finance and business operations in the summer of last year, and later assuming the position of interim chief executive following the departure of previous chief executive Willie Hamilton on July 31.

However, just because he was acting on an interim basis, Boot was far from guaranteed the job and he explains that he went through the same application and interview process as all of the other candidates before being officially announced as the new chief executive today (January 23).

For Boot, 52, who has a background in retail spanning 25 years, having worked for some of this country’s best-known high street names, from outdoor specialist Millets to footwear retailer Jones Bootmaker, the CMJ role appealed to him because of his previous retail experience.

He also alludes to the history and prestige of the organisation as being another reason why he was keen to pursue the chief executive job. “It is a real privilege to be in this position,” he explains, reflecting on his new appointment. “I have worked in retail for a number of years and have always enjoyed it and, to combine that with the jewellery industry, which is so full of history and tradition, is something really quite exciting to me.

“The CMJ is a prestigious organisation with a strong history and something I am excited to be a part of.”

While he may not be from a jewellery background, Boot has spent the past seven months getting to know the industry and also believes a “fresh pair of eyes” with a perspective from another retail sector can only be a good thing for the organisation.

“I have a different way of looking at things,” he says. “I would probably describe myself as more of a diplomat than a dictator. I have always been privileged to work with some very good teams in my past and I see this as no exception.”

To that end, Boot says he wants to continue to work closely with the existing CMJ team based at the head office in Rugby – in particular Lucy Reece-Raybould, the executive director for business development.

“Lucy has incredible knowledge of the organisation and the industry, so I want to develop my relationship with her, working closely to ensure we achieve the best possible outcome for CMJ,” he adds.

Clearly, it is impossible to talk to the new chief executive of the CMJ without mentioning the questions over transparency in the organisation, which were raised by some retail members at last August’s AGM.

On that note, Boot moves to reassure members that this is a new chapter for the organisation and one that will involve greater transparency going forward. “I have reviewed the organisation over the past seven months and have been able to get under the skin of it a bit, and now I feel I can really get started on what the future is going to look like.

“I know Michael [Aldridge, CMJ chairman] mentioned in August the need for the group to return to its core activities and get back to its roots, so now it is about understanding what those roots are and making sure we are giving the members and suppliers what they want from us as an organisation.

“We provide a lot of services as an organisation, but it is going to be about speaking with the members and suppliers to find out what services they need and look at how we can best address their needs.”

Boot explains that he will now be endeavouring to meet more of the membership and its supplier base, and will conduct a thorough review of what the future of CMJ will look like. He says he will continue to work closely with the board as they represent the views of the membership.

On the point about transparency, he adds that there will be regular communications with members and suppliers to keep them informed about the activities of the CMJ at all times. Plus, Boot’s background as finance director for footwear retailers Jones Bootmaker and Brantano should go some way to reassuring members and suppliers that this is a man with a good grasp of data and numbers.

Boot says he believes there is room for the CMJ to grow to include more retail members and, as well as speaking to existing members, he will also be reaching out to those outside the group to find out what the organisation needs to do to be viewed as more appealing for other jewellers to join.

Clearly, Boot has an advantage over most newly-appointed chief executives in that he has already been working in the organisation for a few months, but he seems very relieved that, with the announcement of his official appointment, there also comes a level of certainty for the group.

“This provides certainty for people and continuity,” he explains. “I am now able to really start pushing forward with our plans and I can’t wait to get started.”

  • To read more about Terry Boot, read Retail Jeweller’s profile of him from August here.

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