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The Jewel in the Crown



Perfectly set in the sector is family-run business, Beaverbrooks the Jewellers. Lauded as the leading jeweller and number one retail company in the UK, it has built up a strong reputation for delivering all of the above to its customers, by ensuring staff are accorded the same level of respect as the products they sell.

The prestigious list of honours says it all. For five consecutive years the jeweller has been voted The Sunday Times Best Retailer to Work for. In 2007, it was crowned as the Financial Times Best UK Workplace – cementing its place this year as the number one retailer. And if that wasn’t enough, Beaverbrooks added to a dazzling collection of accolades with a coveted position in the Top 100 Best Workplaces in Europe. The company is undoubtedly recognised and respected throughout the business sector as an exemplary business that invests heavily in its people.

Like any successful company, Beaverbrooks cannot afford to rest on its laurels and take for granted the very thing that has helped it to grow to 64 stores nationwide.

Daniel Brown, Director at Beaverbrooks, is adamant that the company can improve and that it starts with investing in its people. “I was an area manager at Beaverbrooks for four years and during that time I always felt we could do far better at selling,” he explains. “Eight years on and I still believe we are in that position. I want us to improve upon that and there is real evidence to show that we can do significantly better.”

Part of the task of helping to achieve that improvement has been given to Preston-based Advance Performance. Members of the senior management team were introduced to the like-minded corporate and personal development company in 2002. Casting aside the conventional methods of training, the 12-strong team were encouraged by Advance to take a more holistic approach to assessing the company’s needs by understanding the theory and reasoning behind what motivates people at work.

But, as Brown says: “Several years ago the jewellery industry went through a very testing time, which resulted in one of our lowest points in terms of financial performance. We were very conscious of the need to keep people motivated, so we brought Advance in to remind ourselves that even though the figures were not as we’d come to expect it was important to keep people upbeat and happy at work and to put in the same effort through what was a difficult period.

“When the turnaround came in jewellery retail we were then well positioned to leap forward, because of the way we had treated our people. The training delivered by Advance during that time definitely played a part in helping to seize upon that turnaround.” 

Since that point Beaverbrooks has turned to Advance Performance in a growing number of areas. In October 2007, it delivered a series of sessions imparting performance techniques on culture, leadership, behaviour and sales, to 61 sales managers from each of the retailer’s UK stores, with particular focus on providing additional sales impetus over the Christmas period.   

The corporate development company also worked closely with Beaverbrooks on planning and delivering its annual managers’ conference in February 2007 and 2008, which involved every member of its 110-strong executive team from senior managers to office managers and store managers.

“This is a very significant event in the Beaverbrooks’ diary as it provides us with the opportunity to tell every member of our 110-strong management team what has happened in the last year, what we intend to do in the forthcoming year, as well as the next five to ten years. It helps to give people direction and build a really strong, positive culture, and Advance was very much a part of helping us to deliver that,” says Brown.  

“We have been working with Beaverbrooks to help the company go from good to great,” says Simon Clarkson, a director at Advance. “They are a fantastic organisation, but importantly they recognise how much better they can be and we are helping them to achieve that.”

This has been done through a series of training techniques, primarily by helping employees to understand that they can only achieve the goals set down by the company by behaving and interacting in the right way.

“It’s not a question of motivating the company, but more about educating employees on why individual behaviour impacts other people within an organisation and how that behaviour can subsequently affect the productivity of a business,” explains Clarkson.

The programmes delivered so far have helped Beaverbrooks open employees’ minds to the concept of performance training and resulted in a distinct behavioural change in many staff members, including Brown, who also believes that Advance’s input has helped them achieve improved sales figures.

“Simon Clarkson has become something of a mentor for me,” explains Brown. “As a Director in a business you generally receive less support as an individual, because you are regarded as a support mechanism for other people. Simon has become one of the key people who helps to motivate and drive me to continually achieve success.”   

In 2008, Beaverbrooks continues to work in tandem with Advance Performance, refining every aspect of its people management. This now involves delivering a comprehensive and innovative ‘coaching culture’ programme with the aim of embedding coaching within the organisation.  

The programme is being led by prominent coaching and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) expert, Alex Jackson, who heads up the Advance Performance coaching division.  

Phil Jepson, head of HR at Beaverbrooks, says: “As a company, we have carried out a significant amount of training in the area of NLP. Although we firmly believe that we’re well on course, we felt we needed additional, external help to achieve final commitment and establish a true coaching culture.     

The Advance Performance coaching programme is the next stage in the ongoing development of our people. Alex is an inspirational coach and, with her help, we’re confident that we’ll be in a much stronger position to achieve our goal. Having worked with Advance for a number of years, we feel the company has an extremely good understanding of our business and, more importantly, our culture. We’re very impressed with how quickly Alex has become part of our team.”



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