With more than 65 stores nationwide and a 900-strong workforce, Beaverbrooks the Jewellers is one of the UK’s best-known High Street multiples, and one of the first places customers look for their jewellery and watch purchases.
Behind-the-scenes the family-owned business has an incredible track record of supporting charitable causes, including donating 20% of its post-tax profits to charity annually and securing a spot on the Sunday Times’ Top 100 Companies for 12 consecutive years.
For diamond ring and jewellery buyer Lorna Haddon, her focus is on discovering exciting new collections to add to Beaverbrooks’ existing brands such as Hearts on Fire, Maple Leaf Diamonds and its own best-selling Era collection.
Here, Lorna discusses what she looks for at busy trade events and why IJL has proved to be an excellent destination for sourcing new brands and discovering trends…
Q: When you’re looking for new brands or products for Beaverbrooks what are the three most important things you look for?
LH: With new brands or products I always think of our customer, what’s sold well in the past and consider new trends. I think your gut instinct is also really important too; if a piece of jewellery doesn’t feel right, I won’t buy it.
Q: How do you focus your time at trade shows, do you do your research beforehand and only visit select brands or ‘shop around’?
LH: As with all trade shows our aim is to walk the halls soon after arriving, ensuring that we cover each aisle in order to identify emerging trends, product development/direction or new brands. If we do see a new brand, potential trend or a product frequently repeated, then we consider whether it’s suitable for our customers and whether it will complement the Beaverbrooks collections.
Q: What has been your experience of IJL to date – is it a good place to meet new brands, make buying decisions?
LH: IJL is really important for Beaverbrooks as we’ll use it to seek out new trends emerging for 2017 and speak to suppliers about 2016 trade/performance. Having so many suppliers under one roof is an extremely efficient use of both buyers and suppliers time.
IJL presents a great opportunity to review product developments we are currently working on with our partners for imminent launches and also discuss our strategy and direction for ranges and collections for the following year. Every year, there are new exhibitors and of course lots of new product ranges which is a reason why we view IJL as ‘a must’ in our calendar; we never know what exciting new ranges/brands we will uncover until we arrive.
Product development is key for us, as is following the latest trends and showcasing new initiatives for our customers and because of this we will continue to support and attend as many trade fairs as we see fit. Supplier relationships are also very important to Beaverbrooks and IJL and other trade shows offer us the opportunity to meet up with many existing and potentially new suppliers who may have collections which we feel would complement Beaverbrooks’ existing ranges.
Q: Have you noticed any trends among your customers recently?
LH: Personalised jewellery is bigger than ever and consumer demand shows no sign of slowing down in 2016. More than possibly any other retail purchase, jewellery is a reflection of the individual and we’re seeing lots of different colours and materials, all being tailor-made into pieces that reflect the wearer’s style, aspirations and lifestyle.
Another trend we’re seeing is mixing old pieces with new, which creates some very special jewellery combinations. For example, brides in particular are mixing old and new in some original and hugely personal ways. How perfect to combine a memory – in a locket once given to you by your grandma for example, with a piece of jewellery that celebrates a brand new memory of your wedding day.
Following the announcement that rose quartz and serenity are 2016’s Pantone colours, these colours, and pastel tones in general, are certainly the hues of choice when it comes to gemstones.
Q: Finally, what is the best thing about being a jewellery buyer?
LH: I get really excited when a product that I have hand-selected is one of our best sellers. I also love it when customers share their engagement stories and photos with us – it’s a wonderful feeling knowing that I have played a part in a customer’s special story, whatever that may be.
As a buyer I’m very fortunate in that I get to travel the globe, making regular trips to places like Vicenza in Italy, Munich and Las Vegas, to work with designers and spot emerging trends. Not many people can say that they’re going on a business trip to Vegas to look at diamonds!
Picture © Jason Lock