Collinson Jewellers has come a long way since Harry Collinson senior borrowed money from his parents to open up a watchmaker’s shop.
Today, Collinson’s still has that presence in Blandford Street, but it has been joined by the jeweller in Crowtree Road and a highly-successful Pandora outlet in The Bridges.
Harry Collinson junior is the one calling the shots now, but he remains committed to the principles of value and good service his father established for the business.
“Dad used to work at Binns as a watchmaker. He saw a little niche in the market and decided to take the plunge,” says Harry.
“His first day’s takings were £25 – he’s still got them framed in his office.”
Harry joined the business as a teenager, but not for long: “Dad asked me when I was 16, when I left school, because it was his dream to have J H Collinson and Son up outside – I lasted six weeks,” recalls Harry.
Two years at Nissan later, he was lured back , but with his own ideas about expanding the business.
Harry and 17-year-old sister Rachael persuaded their parents to take a chance on opening a new shop in Waterloo Place.
“Mum and Dad didn’t want to open a retail shop but we managed to convince them.
“They gave us £400 to buy stock so we decided to go with silverware because it was a bit more affordable for us and the customers.”
The business did well for several years, until it became obvious the area around Waterloo Place was in decline.
“When even the 99p store closed, we had to think about our location,” says Harry.
The possibility arose of moving to Crowtree Road – but at a cost.
“We had to pay 25 grand to get out of the lease, but it was the best money we’ll ever spend – I think we would have been dead in the water otherwise.
“We moved up to this end of town and it is totally different.”
Seven years ago came the opportunity to become a supplier for Pandora and the range soon proved so popular that it deserved its own store.
“Four years ago we got the chance to move into The Bridges,” says Harry.
“It was a huge decision for us as a family but we had a good, tight business plan and we thought it would work.
“In the event, it was one of the best ever store launches in The Bridges – we had more footfall than the Disney store.”
Harry believes being independent gives Collinson’s an advantage over the big High Street chains.
“It gives us the flexibility to changes things,” he said.
“And it allows us to provide a real personal service to our customers, to offer the kind of added value that people really appreciate.”
It also allows the business to make the most of its people.
“It is really important that we have a great team.
“We invest in them because they are going to drive our business in the future.”
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