If retail is all about location, location, location, then T. Paterson Jeweller has obviously got it right.
Undoubtedly one of Scotland’s oldest family-owned jeweller’s (the business was established in 1832), it has been a fixed point on Perth’s High Street since the 1880s.
Last year saw the firm, now managed by Derek Paterson, expand into an adjoining unit. “Having knocked two premises into one, the sales floor has tripled in size,” explains Derek. “We were able to get a grant under the Empty to Plenty scheme, run through the Council, which covered half the cost of professional fees – the architect and structural engineer. That was very helpful.” The project also received a grant of over £20,000 from the Perth City Heritage Fund, a scheme managed by Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust and funded by Historic Environment Scotland.
The business is on two floors, with the enlarged retail space on the ground floor topped by a workshop where the firm’s three designers work alongside the manufacturing and repair team.
“We took on a third designer when we opened the enlarged shop, last April,” says Derek. “Bespoke jewellery is a big part of the business now. We create our own designs for sale in the shop, which helps showcase what’s possible, and we also get many commissions.
“We source gemstones from all over the world and use CAD and 3D printing to create prototypes, allowing us to keep clients up-to-date at every stage of design and manufacture.
“Our service extends to remodelling old or broken jewellery: transforming something with sentimental value into something truly personal and unique, which can be very rewarding.”
The business has also worked to adopt social media as a powerful marketing channel. “We use Facebook to communicate what we stock and illustrate what we specialise in, as people like to look for inspiration at home. We can then work with customers to create a bespoke piece to match their specification and budget.”
T. Paterson has a reputation for its expertise with coloured stones, such as Ethiopian water opals, which have grown in popularity in recent years. “We don’t sell directly online, but Facebook is an excellent showcase and has proved to be a good way to drive enquiries. We also use Instagram to build awareness.
“It’s also helpful that people can park on the High Street for up to 15 minutes without paying, so clients find it easy to pop in, and the decision to offer free parking on Saturdays in the run up to Christmas did increase footfall last year.
“The city is always aiming to promote business, with projects like the Perth Riverside Light Nights bringing more people into town. We’ve also found the Perth Card to be very worthwhile: as more retailers get involved, the better it works for everyone.”
The focus for 2018 is to build further on its own designs. The window display has been greatly extended since the expansion, and many of the items shown are unique stock pieces. “As diamond specialists, we design and create all kinds of diamond jewellery, and we also show unusual gemstones that we specialise in, such as tanzanite, alexandrite and tourmaline,” explains Derek. “Retail is tough, and doing the design and crafting in-house does allow us to gain a price advantage. It can also allow us to move quickly, to reflect and respond to trends in popular colours or gems.”
There has been a general growth in business, since the expansion. “Every member of staff holds a Jewellery Education Training Certificate from The National Association of Jewellers, and two of our staff also hold qualifications from The Gemmological Association of Great Britain, so we can give clients expert advice.”
Being in business for almost 200 years, T. Paterson has always taken a long-term view of business development. “Our expansion achieved the highest standard of finish and used only high quality materials, just like our range. It also delivered more space for our repair team, which has also been busier.”
Clock repair has become more of a specialist service, and demand has grown over the past five years. T. Paterson’s exterior clock, the only one on Perth’s High Street, makes it a highly visible service as well. “Perth is a very strategic hub,” says Derek, “with a huge percentage of Scotland’s population within an hour of the city. We get people bringing pieces to us from Inverness and further afield.
“Perth outperforms other similar sized cities in retail with good reason,” adds Derek. ”We are very proud of our heritage, but every business has to innovate to survive and from Perth we can bring our clients exceptional quality and value for money, working with some of the world’s leading suppliers of gemstones and materials, to create something that is truly personal and unique.”