A designer and creator of beautiful jewellery as well as a retailer, Boodles is different from other jewellers because they design and make everything they sell. In this interview, we sit down with Managing Director Michael Wainwright to discuss
how the business has evolved throughout these unusual times.
A family story that began in Liverpool in 1798, the originally named Boodle and Dunthorne amalgamated with the Wainwright family in 1910 and has been known as Boodles ever since. The company has been different from the beginning and has been steered by six generations of the same family for over two hundred years.
A British luxury jewellery business, the company’s exceptional products are created by skilled craftsmen in the heart of London and its jewellery is testament to its own exceptionally high standards of excellence and each and every piece is finished to perfection.
Today the business operates nine stores, three of them are in the Northwest of England in Chester, Liverpool and Manchester and five are situated across London. These stores are situated on Bond Street, Sloane Street, there is one in Harrods’ fine jewellery hall, one is in the Royal Exchange and the fifth is positioned in The Savoy Hotel. Their final store is located in Dublin and was opened in 2006.
Despite all the changes that the coronavirus has brought about, the key objectives for the company has remained the same, however how they are going about achieving these goals has been re-evaluated.
“What this pandemic has taught us more than anything is that digital is now a major part of our operation,” explains Michael Wainwright, Managing Director of Boodles. “Before the pandemic, we did not believe digital would be a big factor for us, but we have really seen it take off and we have an excellent team in charge of it now as we look to continue improving this exciting area of the business.”
The business is currently producing a high-class range of jewellery based around glamorous and exotic cities. Around 25 gem stones have been designed around architecture, or art and craft from such locations as London, Marrakech, New York, Paris, Singapore and Sydney amongst others.
“This is something that is a bit whimsical and a bit of fun; it will be a beautifully designed book with rings that highlight the gem stones and how the design of the rings has been inspired by the cities mentioned. We wanted to do this as people have not had the chance to travel so we are aiming to remind people of the magnificent architecture and art in many locations across the world,” says Wainwright.
As many people have been staying indoors, shielding and isolating, Boodles has taken this opportunity to send out a jigsaw puzzle to 1,000 of their clients. Upon completion, the jigsaw highlights the Boodles store on Bond Street. Additionally, before Christmas and continuing into this year the business converted some of their stores into Brasserie Boodles, allowing couples the chance for a socially distanced F&B experience at Boodles.
As social media now plays a prominent role in advertising and marketing brands, the company now commits more of its budget to making films and content to post across its social media platforms.
“Honestly, we used to have no-one working in this department, then we went to one person handling the whole digital department and now we have three. We post on Instagram every other day and we are improving in this area all the time. For us and our client base, Instagram is really the way forward for us,” Wainwright explains.
Boodles design and make everything they sell; they are a manufacturer as well as a retailer. Their design department features four people including head designer Rebecca Hawkins, a famous name in the industry who has been with the company for more than thirty years. Wainwright explains that she joined the business straight out of jewellery college, and who continues to get better even after three decades with the business.
So what does Wainwright feel the key drivers behind the brand’s success to date?
“I think the three key elements are the quality and design of the jewellery, the strength of the brand and quality of our staff and customer relationships. There is always a debate about which is more important, the product or the brand and I feel the answer to this is that they are as important as each other.”
Whilst he is quite optimistic about the next year, Wainwright accepts that a major challenge for the business will remain the high street and that footfall on UK high streets could still be the source of Boodles’ biggest challenge. “After all, if people are not walking past your store fronts, they will not come in and shop!” Wainwright concludes.