12 Days of Bizmas: Goldsmiths

Craig Bolton

12 Days of Bizmas: Goldsmiths

High street Jeweller, Goldsmiths, sees a surge in sales at Christmastime. Goldsmiths and Mappin & Webb’s executive director Craig Bolton tells BQ how the festive period affects business.

What does your business do?

Goldsmiths is the UK's largest luxury high street retailer with stores nationwide and online. With over 230 years of experience and tradition, Goldsmiths sells fine jewellery and diamonds, including exclusive brands Mappin & Webb and Jenny Packham and operates the largest distribution network for Rolex, Omega and TAG Heuer. It is positioned as the local jeweller with showrooms in every major city and in smaller towns.

Northern Goldsmiths, the original Goldsmiths flagship and head office, which crowns the corner of Pilgrim Street and Blackett Street has a rich heritage dating back to 1892, making it one of the most long-standing in the Goldsmiths’ estate.

How does Christmas affect your business?

As we offer a product often gifted, we have lots of mini seasons throughout the year with Christmas being one of the bigger ones alongside Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Bridal – which runs January to May, and we are one of few industries to see it. We deal particularly with luxury watches so while Christmas is again a lucrative time for us, the season is spread out across the year.

How do you cope with the extra demand that Christmas brings?

Our staffing process is not heavily influenced by footfall, but instead by average selling price as the higher this is, the more expertise is required to best serve clients. We tend to take on ‘hosts’ to cope with the demand in-store who meet and greet, and that leaves the experts who have been with us longer to deal with the customers.

How do you market/advertise your business over Christmas?

It has certainly shifted over the years and is now less about traditional marketing and more about digital – and that is how we see it going forward. We invest in PPC, geo-targeting and mailers to capture our online audience and convert web sales or drive traffic in-store. Our Christmas campaign has a different storyline each year to kindle imaginations. This year’s is all about the magic of giving and we are really proud to have partnered with singer and TV presenter Frankie Bridge to bring the campaign to life. She is the perfect fit and her personality shines. The line ‘It starts with…’ is synonymous with our brand and it is this amplifying of the experience around purchase, that resonates with millennials, which is integral to our marketing.

What has been the biggest achievement in your business so far?

We carried out a big project a couple of years ago around recruitment and retention in a bid to address the industry standard of high staff turnover. We now retain 25% more people than we did before and have achieved market-leading turnover figures as a result. We have also more than doubled profit over the last three years which I’m positive is a reflection of employee retention. When you train someone for ten years in watches and jewellery, it’s quite an investment so it is a shame to lose them. This is a continual personal goal for me.

Where do you see your business in five years’ time?

Aurum Holdings as a wider group has now expanded into the US with the recent acquisition of Mayor’s Jewellers marking our entry into the market so this will form a significant part of the five-year outlook. Business will grow beyond the UK and I also envisage UK trade will continue to develop so it will be a dual track process. We will open up more stores where there is a market potential in the UK. Combining services will be a future trend for us crossing over our servicing clients such as watch repairs, maintenance and bespoke commissions with our key purchasing base across jewellery, new and pre-owned watches. Where there is opportunity to extend our showrooms to house all of these elements, we will do. In addition, we have already begun to move away from a fashion-led offering towards a purer luxury proposition which we will be building on and refining longer term.

What’s your favourite thing about the holiday season?

Being a born and bred Geordie, it has to be coming back to Newcastle and enjoying some downtime as I spend most of my week on the road. Christmas day itself is the only day of the year I don’t have to look at sales figures so I savour every second!

How does your business celebrate Christmas?

All the stores have a night out during the season but we celebrate all the way through the season with reward and recognition. It culminates in a big crescendo on Christmas Eve where all the team leaders come to head office to receive rewards and there is a highly-anticipated big draw on behalf of the retail teams where anyone can win pretty spectacular prizes including holidays!