Member Press Releases

Are You A Commercial Hero?

06 Apr 2020

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Simon Johnson, Managing Director, Marmalade Jewellery | Opinion

One of my clients walked up to me the other morning before the lock down and her first words were ‘What on earth is going on?!’ I mean really!! Who could’ve predicted at the beginning of the year that we would all be closed by March for an indeterminate amount of time?

I’ve always said to my wife that so long as we could trade, we’d be fine – as a small independent there’s always the conviction that you’ll drag yourself into work and open the doors no matter what. The permanent niggling fear is what if you can’t? What if the doors have to close? What happens then? How will it work, how will the bills get paid who will pay the staff?

Well its actually happened and not just to me – to everyone.

And I’m going to say it, I’m in no small way scared – scared of the ‘what if’ scared of getting sick, scared for my parents, wife, loved ones, staff and the business.

It’s all a bit daunting and I know that I’m not the only one.

We are at war with an unseen enemy that will rip through our social circles if we’re not careful and do what we’re told.

And it’s going to affect me, you, us, the jewellery industry in more ways than we can imagine and for much longer than we suspect, I think.

The government has responded I think really well, and quickly, and done well given the timescale and magnitude of the crisis.

At Marmalade, we have taken opportunities and suggestions provided by the government and furloughed our workers, taken the rates holiday, applied for the grant and applied for the loans.

But will it be enough for us, for you for everybody?

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Image: Simon's Chiswick store now closed until further notice, Marmalade Jewellery

We hear talk about the NHS font line staff being heroes and they are, no doubt about it, they are the heroes of the medical response to the virus. They put themselves physically in harm’s way and for that we will always remember and salute them.

But the other side of the war effort is the commercial/commerce side. With no one doing business. No money coming in, no jobs safe, how are we dealing with that, who will be the heroes commercially?

Who will be remembered after we have ‘got back to normal’ whatever that looks like, for doing not just well, but better than well, the best that they could do, better than best to help support and encourage businesses great and small to survive and thrive post the war effort?

How is the jewellery industry going to respond? How will we be able to support and encourage players great and small to survive and dig deep into their resourcefulness?

We all closed the doors on or around the 21st March, and if I’m closed for 3 months how can I possibly re-open and on day one and pay everyone? I can’t – no one can.

I believe that its time to think differently, circumstances have changed beyond comprehension and the rules that were in play before the crisis have been thrown out of the window. But we need to make sure that we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Everyone is worried, service providers, buying groups, educators, associations, manufacturers, designers, retailers the entire industry back to front is worried. But now is not the time to pass that worry on, we’re all feeling the same or worse than each other.

We need to change the ‘Chain of Worry’. We must support and nurture each other through this time, and we all must all try to do better than we thought possible, more than we ever have in the past and push our patience and mettle as far as we can.

What example can we set to each other and the industry in order to encourage each other to be Commercial Heroes?

Here are some things that have inspired me recently

  • The generosity of all education providers sharing webinars and free education courses.
  • The companies who have waved their monthly subscription fees without even being asked. Setting us all a great example.
  • The community spirit between us all, the trade pulling together to support each other.
  • The ‘Clap-a-thon’ of love demonstrated to the NHS staff.
  • The sharing of trading ideas such as discussed in the IRV for one example, re valuing pre examined items. The insurance underwriters and Th March offering a support and window of revenue.
  • The virtual coffee break mornings uniting us together.
  • The sharing of knowledge on the IRV forum.
  • The kindness of (some) landlords extending payment holidays and payment plans.

If we all pull together and try and help each other, I promise to all my suppliers I will pay you, if and when I possibly can I will pay you, but you will have to be patient and you will have to make arrangements at your end and we will have to keep trading, because no trade means no business.

The suppliers who support me, I will remember and reward in the years to come with loyalty, friendship and encouragement, I will keep pushing business your way and we will grow together.

Don’t send statements – honestly don’t send statements, it costs you money to remind everyone how much worrying they have to do. I know what I owe you and I am aware that we will have to work together to fix that, but don’t remind me. Take the 1 or 2 pounds it costs to send me a statement and give it to the NHS charities feeding our frontline heroes.

Now is the time to be kind, be patient, to pass on good ideas.

Let your network know that you will work with them.  If you can let your customers know that you’ll work with them, it will take some of their worry away, if you let your suppliers know that you will do what you can when you can they will become less worried. Let’s take some of the worry out of the chain.

Tell me you’ve done that and been the best you can be, and I will remember. – I promise, because you’ll be my hero.


Source: Simon Johnson, Marmalade Jewellery