Town Talk Polish MD Andrew Smyth on KickStart, heritage and private label sales

Town Talk Polish MD Andrew Smyth on KickStart, heritage and private label sales

This year jewellery cleaning and polishing specialists Town Talk Polish have partnered with KickStart to offer the People’s Choice winner 1,000 gold, silver or microfibre cloths, complete with their own branding.

This fantastic prize is a great way for emerging designer brands to offer added value to their customers.

Here, Town Talk Polish Co.Ltd managing director Andrew Smyth discusses the origins of the business, making cleaning products covetable and his experiences of exhibiting at International Jewellery London.

Q: Can you tell us a little more about Town Talk Polish’s heritage and the services you specialise in? 

AS: Our company has an interesting history. In 1895 an enterprising man from Lancashire developed an innovative impregnated silver polishing cloth. It used a combination of an already successful silver polishing liquid with the high quality cotton material readily to hand in the area.

This cloth, with its “amazing anti-tarnish qualities”, soon became “The Talk of the Town!” And so was founded The Town Talk Polish Company. A few years later an artist was commissioned to develop a symbol for the growing business and he created an illustrated, traditional British gentleman in top hat and tails; we now know him as Mr Town Talk, the Polished Gentleman, and he remains the symbol of our brand today appearing on all the Town Talk packaging, along with his helpful polishing and household tips.

Today, Town Talk is a well-established global brand, shipping to over 40 countries with a distribution network in the US, the Far East and Australia. Yet it remains a family run business and we still manufacture everything from our factory in the UK.

We pride ourselves on producing the finest quality jewellery cleaners and polishing cloths, which are quick and easy to use and give brilliant results every time. We have a cleaning product – cloth, dip, spray or tissue – for all types of jewellery, from high end to costume jewellery; individually tailored for gold, silver, diamonds, pearls and watches.

Q: What services do you offer to retailers and brands who perhaps want a more bespoke product?

AS: We specialise in private label and can package almost all of our products under a jewellers’ own brand. This now represents around 50% of our turnover and our customers include leading jewellery retailers and department stores as well as smaller independent jewellers. We have a studio team with graphic designers who can create a new style for a jeweller or develop packaging based on their existing logo. The result is a high quality, personalised product that provides an excellent means of promoting their brand name.

Q: What are your best-selling products? 

AS: Our Gold and Silver Polishing Cloths are a staple to most customers, and recognised as being the best available on the market. However the new jewellery Cleaning Kits are also proving very successful. They were designed off the back of a retailer’s suggestion; we were asked to package several existing products together for jewellers to sell. So we’ve developed three cleaning kits for gold, silver or pearls. Each includes an 18 x 18cm cleaning cloth, 50ml spray, and a brush and comes in a beautifully packaged box. They’re proving easy for retailers to sell through to consumers at a reasonable price and profit margin.

Q: Your packaging has a lovely ‘old English’ vibe to it, is this important for your brand identity?

AS: It’s important that the packaging is attractive and stands out to consumers in jewellery shops. And yes, the Mr. Town Talk illustrations certainly reflect the history of the brand and reinforce its ‘Britishness’. Town Talk is very popular with international buyers too who love the heritage of the company and the quality of British-made products.

We have the capability within our factory to design, make and print all products in house, including most packaging, to a professional standard. We’re making premium products after all so the packaging has to reflect that.

Let’s face it in the glamorous world of jewellery, cleaners and polishes are considered more everyday essentials, so making the packaging fun and distinctive is a way of catching consumers’ attention and showing our personality. Any visitor to our factory in Lancashire will soon meet a down to earth, friendly and passionate team – so we think Mr. Town Talk perfectly represents who we are.

Q: How do you work with brands and retailers to ensure great sell-through of your products?

AS: Some retail customers take Town Talk products to add value to retail sales at a relatively low cost. Others take them to sell on and increase turnover. We find that those jewellers who recommend Town Talk as the cleaner of choice sell the most; a professional recommendation of professional products is a sure-fire winning formula and once people try the products they really are converted for good.

For retailers who want the best quality products under their own brand, we offer that too. In fact we specialise in manufacturing own brand cloths to any design and print packaging to match a jeweller’s brand, seamlessly. Own brand customers offer cloths as added value gifts to remind customers where they bought from and to prompt them to return.

Q: What are your impressions of exhibiting at International Jewellery London?

AS: We’ve exhibited at IJL for many years and it’s one of our most successful shows that we do all around the world. It’s the perfect place to catch up with a lot of our existing UK customers as well as meeting new ones. IJL of course sees the top designers at the cutting edge of jewellery fashion and skills, so it’s the show that Town Talk certainly wants to be seen at.”

Q: Can you tell us what inspired you to partner with KickStart this year? 

AS: Last year in particular we had so many of the young designers at IJL visit our stand who really seemed struck with the idea of how doing an Own Brand cloth to go with their new jewellery collection could help get their name out there. This gave us the idea that by partnering with KickStart we could offer something that really would benefit the winner and that they could be fully involved in designing.

But we also recognise that whilst we are confident our products are the best in the business, we can’t afford to rest on our laurels; we want to remain at the top of the game and being associated with the KickStart emerging jewellery designers will help us continue to learn and grow so that our products remain relevant. We want to be the first to know about techniques, materials and skills designers are using. We’re also keen to pass on any specialist experience that designers might find useful.

Q: What are your business aims for 2016, do you plan to grow the business, meet new clients or target customers directly? 

AS: Our focus is very much on raising our profile and continuing to grow the business at home and overseas by offering professionals the very best products on the market, whether that’s with Town Talk or under own brand products.

We’ve already reached one of our goals, to achieve British Retail Consortium Global Standards (BRC). It’s a huge feat and reveals a lot about the stringent procedures and high standards that run throughout our business. Getting BRC status reinforces our position on the world stage. Off the back of this we’ve also just been shortlisted as Supplier of the Year at the Retail Jeweller UK Jewellery Awards.

Discover more about this year’s KickStart designers, here

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