The Company of Master Jewellers, I am assured, is soon to turn a corner. It has been extremely difficult to secure concrete answers to some of the questions that have been swirling around the corridors of the jewellery industry this last month, and indeed to establish what exactly the top brass think they are ‘cornering’ away from. In truth, not all of the key questions have been answered, despite my best efforts. But with our major feature analysing departed chief executive Willie Hamilton’s legacy, and chairman Michael Aldridge’s thoughts on the future direction of the buying group, we are at least closer to understanding what all the whispers amount to.
What we do know though, is that in organisations, sound corporate governance is clearly sometimes difficult to exercise. A large bonus payment was unilaterally authorised to an unnamed member of the CMJ management team without a rubber stamp from the board of directors – so Aldridge tells me – and while this may have been legal, it certainly doesn’t look good, especially when the CMJ maintains a shroud of secrecy around who the lucky recipient was. Admitting something took place is not the same as accounting properly for it, but at least the CMJ is allowing some information to make its way into the public domain.
In any case, it is in everyone’s interests that the CMJ moves forward as a thriving, successful organisation delivering benefits for its stakeholders as it was set up to do. Aldridge explained to me that “transparency” will be his watchword as he establishes a “refocusing” of the business on its core activity – being a buying group. Let’s hope Aldridge delivers on his promises – the jewellery industry is better off for organisations which successfully boost trade and orders, and in a retail landscape that remains tough, we need buying groups and their members to be celebrating as much growth as possible.