Middlesbrough’s unique jewellery stores are playing a key role in the fightback against the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic, says mayor Andy Preston.
Cartier, Omega and Breitling are the sort of prestigious ultra high-end brands you’d expect to find on Regent Street – but they’re also adding a luxury sparkle to Christmas shopping in the town.
However, mayor Preston says the jewellery stores – and businesses across the town centre – still need the public vote with their feet and keep the tills ringing if the town centre is to prosper amid unprecedented uncertainty and challenge.
The mayor visited Hillier and Market Cross Jewellers on Linthorpe Road to find out how they’re coping with Covid-19, and helping to bring in shoppers who might otherwise take their business elsewhere.
Mayor Preston said: “These amazing, high quality shops offer something that you simply can’t find anywhere else on Teesside.
“They bring in customers spending anything from £20 to £20,000 on a watch – they’re hugely well thought of in what is a notoriously tough business.
“And what they bring to Middlesbrough is priceless in terms of world class prestige brands, and customers who will then see everything else our town centre has to offer.
“I’m grateful to them for everything they do for the town, and would urge everyone to make Middlesbrough their number one shopping destination this Christmas.”
Hillier Jewellers are the North-East’s largest stockist for Seiko watches and one of the top ten independents in the UK, and last year celebrated their 40th anniversary.
Over the last four decades the business has diversified, with a ‘mini department store’ approach now covering watch boutiques, unbranded jewellery Yankee Candles and Ray Ban and Oakley sunglasses.
Adam Hillier said: “We’re part of the fabric of Middlesbrough, and our whole focus is on maintaining and growing the business in the town centre.
“We’re very much a family business – the customer comes first in everything we do, and that means they can expect a totally different level of service from the multiples.
“In turn our customers are incredibly loyal, and don’t feel the need to go anywhere else.”
Just along Linthorpe Road at Market Cross – the name reflecting the location of the first Guisborough store – high-end luxury watches from the likes of Omega, Breitling and Cartier add a cosmopolitan touch to central Middlesbrough.
The flagship of 14 stores – which employs 23 – also brings in a loyal clientele who appreciate personal service and the company’s popular ‘lay away’ scheme that enables them to pay for the timepiece of their dreams at any price point in regular instalments.
Company manager Dawn Welsh said: “The last year has really hurt, so it’s more important than ever that people continue to shop on the high street if it is to survive.
“We’ve been in Middlesbrough for 30 years, and we have so many customers who’ve shopped with us for much of that time because they know and love what we have to offer.
“It’s all about the experience and the personal touch which bring people so much lasting pleasure.
“We have people coming to us from across the area and beyond – that’s great for our business, but it’s also good for trade and prosperity in the town as a whole.”