Profile: Hill and Hill The Jewellers

27 Nov 2019

And now for something completely different… ‘relaxed luxury’ arrives in Altrincham.

Who are Hill & Hill?

Jo and Alex Hill

Hill & Hill The Jewellers is the brainchild of husband and wife team Alex and Jo Hill (previously Jo Henderson). Jo has worked in the jewellery industry for 20 years. From opening her first shop aged 21, to building a £2.5m business of six stores in London, Manchester and the Lake District, she went on to establish herself as a leading industry expert offering consultancy and training to key names like Casio, Clogau and Lumbers. Jo helps train and motivate staff on all aspects of selling jewellery, as well as offering management support on running a successful multi-million pound jewellery business. 

In the 2018 UK Jewellery Awards she won the Services to the Industry Award and she’s the chosen training provider for UK buying groups CMJ and Houlden. Thriving on helping smaller high street jewellers compete in tough economic conditions, she’s arguably the ‘Mary Portas of the jewellery world’, helping turn businesses from ‘struggling’ to ‘very profitable’.

Her partner Alex Hill, a former BBC journalist and freelance television producer, is a relative newcomer to the jewellery industry. Over the years together he says he couldn’t help but get sucked into the "wonderful world of jewellery". Work schedules meant he and Jo barely saw each other, so the idea of opening a shop together was mooted. But it had to be a jewellery shop ‘like no other’. Alex says: "I didn’t want glass boxes, long glass counters, staff in suits. We agreed on a concept of ‘relaxed luxury’, cutting edge but unpretentious and thoroughly welcoming".

Who else should we know about?

Alex and Jo believe it’s their store manager who is the real brains behind the stores day-to-day success – Bethy Highon was one of Jo's first employees and is described by Alex as
a ‘jewellery genius’. Bethy is obsessed with anything to do with jewellery – always on top of new brands and looks. “She’s an outstanding professional in the industry – we are immensely proud of Bethy,” says Jo.

Why open now and why in Altrincham?

Hill and Hill 3

"Once a shop owner, always a shop owner" says Jo, who has missed not running her own store. So over the last few years the couple quietly looked for a town where a new ‘relaxed luxury’ style jewellery shop would fit. On a day out to Altrincham they came across a large empty corner shop. The town had just won the ‘best high street in England award (2018) and was enjoying a resurgence.

This shop was an obvious place for the new concept store. Altrincham sits in an area considered one of the wealthiest boroughs of the North West. It’s been named as one of the Top 10 ‘premium opportunities’ in the UK (Property Week). The Great British High Street Award run by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and sponsored by Visa, celebrate the best town centres across the UK and Altrincham was one of 26 finalists.

Awards judge Hemlata Narasimhan, head of Merchant Services at Visa Europe, said: “Altrincham is a fantastic example of a high street that has made huge strides in transforming itself and significantly improving the environment for locals and visitors alike.”

"Surprisingly Altrincham does not have any mid-priced jewellery shops selling accessible luxury jewellery,” says Jo. “They do now!"

 

What look and customer experience did you want for the store?

Being totally different was the starting point. Alex and Jo were determined to curate a totally new jewellery experience, with the furniture all reclaimed vintage cabinets, as well as some of the UK's best designers. They spent six months searching out unique and beautiful display cabinets from all over the UK. One of the largest cabinets used to be in the Natural History Museum where for a century it displayed dinosaur bones. It’s vital that the shop felt warm and welcoming, and like no other.

Alex says: "We are hugely proud of the shop and customers love it. You’ll never get a hard sell at Hill & Hill; we’ll just happily show off our amazing designers – the jewellery sells itself. Designers like Shaun Leane, Claudia Bradby, Lucy Quartermaine, and local designers Carter Gore and Rachel Galley are all totally on point and customers love them."

Hill and hill inside

As an industry consultant, it was clearly key for Hill & Hill to be spot-on! Is it living up to your dreams so far? What has the customer reaction been like?

"Putting customer experience at the heart of this business was a priority. Everyone who walks through the door is warmly welcomed. Hill & Hill is a fully working jewellers and so whatever the customer wants, we can do,” says Jo. “From day one we have had customers wanting bespoke pieces, as well as many needing repairs. We say ‘whatever the customer wants we will do it’, we always say ‘yes’.”

Already the shop has had amazing reviews on Google and Facebook and customer response has been great, explains Alex.

"This shop is beautiful. It's been very carefully crafted to make you feel welcome, without being intimidating and customers really like that. Customers get outstanding service – we’re all a little bit obsessed about offering really good service."

Would you like a member profile? Email Belinda via editor@naj.co.uk to share your story.

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