Name: Jeremy France, Jeremy France Jewellers
Year Established: 1990
Number of staff: 20
Tell us about your business
Since opening our doors in Winchester in 1990, we have offered a diverse selection of the finest jewellery, striving to not only meet our customers expectations but exceed them.
We employ 20 staff within our three-storey Grade II listed store in the historical cathedral city of Winchester. It comprises a sales showroom, design floor, workshop and luxury champagne bar.
What makes you stand out from your competitors?
Customer service is usually the way to succeed in any retail industry and we are no exception. Our business philosophy has always been to have superb customer service as its foundation, and we aim to provide a level of excellence that simply isn’t comparable; from how a customer is greeted walking through the door, to the drink they are offered whilst discussing their requirements, to the finest grade diamonds they are shown when choosing that special ring. The communication they receive throughout and the way they are treated whether they make a purchase that day or not is literally everything. Every detail and effort is in place to make it a memorable and delightful experience. Jewellery is such an emotive luxury that every aspect of our job must be in keeping with the individual’s unique and special story.
You recently designed a brooch for Joanna Lumley, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the UK’s brigade of Gurkhas, how was that?
It was a great honour to design the brooch for Joanna Lumley and be able to present it to her on behalf of the regiment and Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment charitable trust. The celebrations for Gurkha 200 were held at Her Majesty’s Palace and Fortress, London. It was a very proud and poignant event for me personally as my late father Edward served two tours in east Nepal with the Royal Engineers, allowing me to spend some time there in my teens. Ms Lumley has a similar personal affiliation to the Gurkhas as her late father served in the 6th Gurkha Rifles and she is an outstanding patron and supporter of the Gurkha Welfare Trust. Myself and my design manager James Rudge were invited to the black tie celebration event to present the brooch, which was handcrafted here in our workshop in gold, silver and diamonds.
You employ a team of designers and offer free design consultation, what does this add to the customer experience?
Employing a team of designers and offering a free design consultation service undoubtedly adds to the customer experience because our customers know that their needs are met from every angle. Most of our designers, although now primarily designing both for bespoke commissions and our in-house design collections, have previous bench experience so they truly understand the process of manufacture. This is vital in creating jewellery that will go from a sketch to a wearable piece that is beautiful and unique to the client, and can be enjoyed for years to come. The designers work closely with our goldsmiths on site, who are on view in the workshop situated within the design floor.
What is the biggest change to the industry since your inception of the company?
I would have to say that the advances in technology have evolved and shaped the way our trade now functions beyond all realms of what would once have been imaginable. Evidence of these changes is apparent throughout all aspects of the business not least in the manufacture, where CAD and 3D printing have gone from strength to strength, meaning that machines now fast track what was once all done by skilled craftsmen. With repairs, we now use a laser which enables us to work wonders that were never possible before. On the retail side of the business, an iPad has replaced a notepad and receipts are stored electronically along with customer details and records of all the work carried out for our clients. We are pushing the limits of what can be achieved day by day through advances in technology but, we believe, we keep the balance right between technology and tradition still.
What does the future hold?
The future is a very exciting prospect for us. After our successful relocation with a multi-million pound refit, we are riding the wave of change and feeling fresh. We’re attracting new clientele every day, bringing new potential for pushing boundaries that we wouldn’t have considered before. We launched our own brand alongside the opening of this store with our very own ‘Champagne Collection’, comprising bridal jewellery that features stunning champagne diamonds.
The next generation of the France family, my daughter Harriet and son Chris, are stepping forward in their involvement within the business and making their mark as they add to the already firm foundations. We have been working together as a family for a few years now, but we all felt this move was the right time for them both to adjust to more prominent positions within the company. The future is looking sparkling.