Independent family jewellers are the stalwart of the retail jewellery business and are one the few remaining family businesses that are left in the high street. We have lost many of the family fashion shops, pharmacies, electrical stores and the like and most have witnessed their businesses being eaten up by the multiples or major shopping centres. But the independent jewellery retailers are still with us.
They are usually a real part of the community they operate in, and ‘my jeweller’ is held in the same esteem as ‘my solicitor’ or ‘my doctor’. Family-run jewellers can offer a level of personal service that is head and shoulders above their competitors. Generations of customers may have bought from generations of family jewellers and they operate from a foundation of real trust.
The independent also brings a unique range of product together as they select their own personal ranges of jewellery that is akin to the styles and tastes of their local clients alongside the key brands that dominate their multiple rivals. This independence is key to building a family retailer’s own ‘brand’ within the community. I often tell many of our members that they should not be concerned about the power of big jewellery and watch brands because they can all sit alongside each other under the umbrella of the retailer’s own independent brand. This means it is vitally important that each independent remains independent of their brand selection and brings a fresh and inspiring jewellery product offer.
Key areas of concern for the future will always be succession planning, especially for the mature retailers. Will the next generation want the business they have probably witnessed growing or declining during their formative years? If they do, will the previous generation want to pass it onto them? Or is the next generation capable of running the business, as they may not have the skills or drive that is needed?
It can be a very lonely life as an independent family business as you may not have anyone to talk through your issues or concerns with. We have a saying in The CMJ: ‘Your independence is vital but your collective will be your survival.’ This has never been so true in today’s competitive market place.
- For more on the challenges currently facing family jewellers and how to surmount them make sure you read the next issue of Retail Jeweller, out next week.