Jewellery retailer Ramsdens sees massive success after diversifying revenue streams

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As trade picks up again after Covid, the independent store and online chain, which is listed on London’s secondary Alternative Investment Market (AIM) for smaller companies, is forecasting £66.9 million turnover for next year.

While the group’s sales are an indicator of what is happening at the grassroots and the outlook is challenging, “we’re more recession-proof,” explains chief executive Peter Kenyon.  

“We don’t fly that high in good times and offer services that reach out in bad when credit tightens – it’s an important balance that can withstand fluctuations and creates resilience.

“Customers are travelling again and want foreign currency, this remains the sector with the biggest growth potential and took over a year to establish.

“The consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues and gold is the safe haven investors flock to in uncertain times. 

“The cost of living crisis has increased pressure on consumers and the focus on pawnbroking, which for us is about accessible finance from a regulated lender – the solution to a short term borrowing need, not high cost short term credit.”

Keen to banish ingrained misconceptions, he also underlines the clear distinction between pawnbroking, where customers borrow against jewellery assets which they continue to own, and sale and buy back practices. “Pawnbroking is significantly cheaper with greater flexibility and regulatory protection,” he adds.

For over a decade, Kenyon has driven growth through expansion of the shops estate across the UK after seeing gold price rises open up opportunities on the high street, acquisitions including 24 The Money Shop stores, a management buyout then the FX services development and online gold buying.

Today the company has 153 stores with plans to open five more this year and for the “healthy pipeline” to continue after that in locations “where there’s not a gap, but a nucleus, with good, high quality neighbours and footfall.

We are breaking down some landlords’ preconceived prejudices with our commitment to quality shop fits, quality products and great service. Our Eldon Square branch in Newcastle is an ideal example,” he explains.

Customers are from all walks of life, with more over 40s, some revealing a taste for premium watches. “Growth here has been significant over the past 18 months,” says Kenyon.

“Why now? Perhaps because people couldn’t go on holiday and wanted to treat themselves. There is always a demand for a Rolex, the supply is limited and the value appreciates. Part-exchange from customers wanting to trade up is on the rise.”

The group is aiming to add to its 670 head count by recruiting 80 more staff.

Ramsdens “went early on increasing wages,” he says. “Lower paid staff received a 12 per cent increase and those on a higher salary five per cent. The variety of work in our stores keeps staff engaged.”

They are also key to business overcoming the identity challenge – enabling customers to know exactly what Ramsdens is offering.

“Our stores are umbrellas with different products and services,” explains Kenyon. “Customers come in for one thing, then return for another.”

After a pause, the group is now paying a dividend. “The current plan is to split profits between investors and growing the business,” he adds. 

“Our philosophy is simple: keep improving what we do, replicate our store model in new locations where we can and if a consolidation opportunity crops up – great.”

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