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000 Penny Manuel July 11:Layout 1



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women in business

how I made it

Penny Manuel is the Managing Director of the Cheltenham-based Soho Coffee Co. Here, she chats to Eve Holmes about the challenges and delights of creating a remarkably successful brand...

Women in Business is sponsored by Jelf Group, Westmoreland House, 80-86 Bath Road, Cheltenham. To find out more please contact Account Executive Andrea Lavis on 01242 225860. JULY 2011

Penny Manuel’s passion for her business is so delightfully infectious it is easy to see how she has built the Soho Coffee Co into a multi-million pound luxury coffee chain, expanding from a couple of shops in Cheltenham to 19 stores across the South West and concessions in four airports. Penny studied a degree in Hotel and Business Management before working for major corporations such as Forte Hotels, Sainsbury’s and the Compass Group, which armed her with extensive retail experience and a skillset that prepared her for starting her own business. “Before we bought the business I would never have believed that I would some day run my own company,” says Penny, who bought Soho in 2006 with business partner Chris Copner. Since then the business has gone from strength to strength with a workforce of 90 and an impressive turnover of £17 million. The company’s success is due to Penny’s unfailing commitment to Soho’s corporate values - providing a superior food offering to other coffee shops, with an emphasis on fresh, handmade, quality food. With some of the Soho stores owned by franchisees, Penny ensures that the company values are maintained in every location. “Every customer comment comes directly to me so I know which stores are doing well and which aren’t. I have a direct relationship with each franchisee and we make sure that they are all run to our high standards.” Starting from humble beginnings in Cheltenham, the brand has experienced tremendous growth thanks to prudent investment and organic growth by delivering a great product. “I can always see things in the business

that we can spend money on but we have to be careful and only invest in things that will deliver for the business.” Soho has triumphed through some difficult times, such as the recent economic climate, the worst snow fall in recent years and the floods of 2007. “Despite the challenges we have still managed to expand and grow the business which has been a fantastic achievement. Coffee is still an affordable luxury and our customers are so loyal. Cheltenham is a fantastic place to do business as everyone seems to want you to do well. We appreciate our local customers and never underestimate the fact that they can choose to go somewhere else. “I always want our customers to receive a warm welcome in all of our stores and to have all the information to hand to make their decision.” Penny’s exceptional business acumen and eye for detail was celebrated at the 2011 Citizen and Gloucestershire Echo Women in Business Awards, where she was awarded Woman of the Year. “It was of course wonderful to win and it made my daughter very proud of me! “Awards such as these are very motivating and inspiring. There are so many talented female entrepreneurs in Gloucestershire and women are naturally very robust characters in business.” Ask Penny about her own inspiration and she names Jamie Oliver as an ‘amazing entrepreneur’. “My own motivation is my family. I couldn’t do this without them. They give me wonderful support which drives me forward.” So what is in store for Soho in 2011? “I want the business to double in size over the next five years, which is achievable. I always aim high.” CS 


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my journey so far

women in business

Rebekah Howard is the Operations Director at Adey Professional Heating Solutions. Here, she chats to Eve Holmes about taking a business gamble that paid off...


Women in Business is sponsored by Jelf Group, Westmoreland House, 80-86 Bath Road, Cheltenham. To find out more please contact Account Executive Andrea Lavis on 01242 225860. AUGUST 2011

Rebekah Howard is unexpectedly humble about her work achievements, although it is immediately obvious when you meet her that she has great business prowess. Rebekah has played an instrumental part in growing Adey Professional Heating Solutions into a multi million pound business which exports to two European countries, and is the fastest growing business in the South West. Rebekah went straight into work from school at the age of 16, learning the skills of business first hand in the fast paced industry of IT. Working for high profile companies in Oxford and London, including the Bank of England, Bank de Roma, Twynings and the Tussauds Group, Rebekah honed her customer care skills solving problems quickly and efficiently for her customers. A chance meeting with heating engineer Chris Adey could be pinpointed as her lucky break as Rebekah joined Chris on a journey to take the business to amazing heights, and managed to grow the company from £1.8m turnover to an astonishing £8.5m in just one year. “I met Chris and I liked what he was doing with his business. He was looking for someone to join him in sales and I immediately saw the potential of where the company could go. It was a gamble to leave a secure job to join Chris but I had confidence in the business and what we could achieve together.” Chris designed and developed the innovative MagnaClean Professional unit which has revolutionised the heating industry. The product is widely recognised as a major breakthrough in central heating system maintenance. Starting from humble beginnings working from Chris’s dining room table, the business started to grow so rapidly that their biggest challenge was keeping up with the demand. “We were soon moving into office premises and employing staff and then we won a British Gas account which meant a

huge expansion for the business.” As the market leader of their sector, Adey Professional Heating Solutions achieved the accolade of being ranked 11 in the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 in 2010. “This was one of our highlights, but we were also thrilled when we sold our millionth MagnaClean. “Customer care is fundamental; we focus on product integrity as well as excellent service. It is so important to deal with queries immediately to ensure the customer is always informed.” Now working out of a state-of-the-art office in Gloucester Road, Cheltenham, Adey employees 35 staff with 11 people out on the road. The business services customers all over the UK as well as Ireland and France. Rebekah admits that her work/life balance is skewed towards working but hearing her passion for the business you realise that she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I am learning to play the piano so that is my time to relax and be creative. “My drive comes from my family and when we get together we’re always talking about business. It’s so important to make your own opportunities and to be persistent. The hard work will pay off. I admire people who take risks in business. Adey’s vision for the future is to be the world’s leading magnetic filter manufacturer by 2017, and they look set to achieve it. Adey has also been nominated for ‘Business of the Year’ in the Gloucestershire Media Business Awards, and Rebekah as ‘Young Business Person of the Year’. “We are very proud of what we have achieved and it is so important to work with companies that you like. Cheltenham is a great place to do business, we are really lucky to have such a fantastic variety and quality of businesses to work with here.” CS


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high achiever



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women in business

Pat Topping is the joint MD of SLG Beauty, which designs and manufactures a range of inspirational high fashion beauty brands. Here, she chats to Eve Holmes about the company’s achievements...

SLG Beauty. Tel: 01452 565760.

Sponsored by Jelf Women in Business is sponsored by Jelf, Westmoreland House, 80-86 Bath Road, Cheltenham. To find out more please contact Account Executive Jim Stevenson on 01242 225860. or visit


Not many businesses can talk of a ‘meteoric rise’ during an economic downturn, but SLG Beauty can boast such a claim. They have grown their turnover in the last three years from £6 million to £12 million and Pat Topping, joint MD, has been instrumental in this impressive growth, drawing on her financial background to increase the company’s retail sales and see the company establish itself as a market leader in inspirational beauty brands. “We are very much a family business and we have grown from a cottage industry into a highly commercial business,” says Pat. And a family business it is, with Graham Dunkley and Pat having started the company 30 years ago and now Pat and her business partner Miles Dunkley running the SLG Beauty today, each excelling in their dedicated areas. “SLG Beauty started with just one product, a cosmetic sponge. Today we are very proud to be manufacturing 25 per cent of our turnover here in Gloucester including Velvotan, the company’s ‘hero’ product, a self-tan applicator mitt invented and patented by Graham Dunkley, which is flying off the shelves. And the Velvotan is just one example of the innovation and creativity that is visible in all of SLG Beauty’s captivating products. Pat is very proud of the fact that the business is local and that the shareholders are Gloucestershire through and through. The manufacturing, operations and finance side of the business are run from Gloucester, and sales and marketing is in Cheltenham. “Our philosophy has always been about delivering excellent customer service as well as truly creative products.” SLG Beauty has built its reputation on designing exciting consumer brands with high fashion influences, and supply to an impressive list of high street chains including Boots, Next, Superdrug, M&S, Debenhams and Superdry. Under licence they produce a range of private label brands including the highly successful Sex and the City collection.

“Even in times of economic gloom, females still want to pamper themselves with feel good products, and that’s what we strive to produce,” says Pat. That is not to say that the company hasn’t felt any repercussions of the economic downturn. “For six months all retailers stopped ordering to save themselves money, which meant we had to really look inward and make the business as lean as possible. Once the retailers’ stocks had run out they were coming back to us and the pendulum started swinging again.” Basing their sales and marketing office in Cheltenham was a deliberate move to attract top buyers to the town so they could pitch their products to retailers. “Cheltenham has a reputation for its creative talent. We are passionate about working with local companies as much as possible; there is so much innovation here.” Pat admits that she loves the cut and thrust of business and has always been a high achiever, enjoying a fast paced working life before having children. “When I had children I worked from home for six years then went back to working 12 hour days, but I always made time to attend the children’s school events, which were important to me.” Today, with her two children now adults (her son an airline pilot and her daughter who has joined the business) she has resumed her energetic working life and is dedicated to achieving SLG Beauty’s goals of doubling their turnover in the next three years. Pat’s organisational skills help her excel in the operational and finance side of the business, ensuring the company delivers it diverse range of products to their customers on time. “We supply to 65 countries and we’ve kept 25 per cent of our manufacturing in the UK, which gives us the flexibility to turn things around quickly,” says Pat. So for someone who has achieved so much in her career, what personal goals is Pat working towards? “I would certainly love to do more travelling and to visit my brother in Australia, when I get time!” CS 


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women in business

Anne Compton is Managing Partner at Rickerbys LLP, one of the leading law firms in the South West, and attributes a life of hard work to rising to the top of her profession. Here she talks to Eve Holmes...


Sponsored by Jelf Women in Business is sponsored by Jelf, Westmoreland House, 80-86 Bath Road, Cheltenham. To find out more please contact Account Executive Jim Stevenson on 01242 225860. or visit


Meeting Anne Compton it is clear that working hard comes naturally. Coming from a family background where she was the first one to go to University, Anne excelled at comprehensive school and was encouraged to apply to Cambridge, where she studied hard and received a first-class degree. “I really enjoyed Cambridge and Churchill College is known for accepting a higher than average percentage of students from comprehensive schools, so I felt that I fitted in well.” London was Anne’s next calling, where she studied at the College of Law in Lancaster Gate. After qualifying she joined a London law firm to begin her legal training. Working in the City never appealed, so after her training Anne and her husband thought hard about where to settle. Gloucestershire won their hearts and Anne joined Rickerbys as Assistant Solicitor specialising in Corporate and Commercial law, a part of the business which was expanding due to the growing demand for legal services from businesses in the region. “I was really impressed with Rickerbys and its ethos, and I loved the sense of belonging in Gloucestershire. I liked the fact that I could see the local businesses I was representing. I felt that I was giving something back to the business community. It is so rewarding helping companies to achieve their business goals.” After five years Anne had already made it to a Partner in the business, making her mark in the commercial team and gaining extensive experience in all types of corporate transactions. “The highlight of my career was being offered the position of Managing Partner at Rickerbys in 2005. It was a huge honour.” As Managing Partner, Anne admits that juggling a huge variety of tasks is one of the job’s challenges. Her role encompasses overseeing the strategy and direction of the firm including human resources, business development and finance.

“One of the pleasures of the job is the variety but I don’t have the luxury of spending more than a few minutes on one thing. I have to be able to switch my attention from one thing to the next very quickly.” Anne takes pride in the company’s dedication to clients, building long lasting relationships which fosters a loyal clientele. Engaging with the local community is also a priority and their legal seminars play a big part in this strategy. Rickerbys is also heavily involved with local sponsorship and fundraising activities in the local area. Anne admits she thrives on challenging herself which is evident in everything she does. Even with the enormous responsibility of being a Managing Partner, Anne spent two years studying for an MBA in Legal Practice Management for which she gained a Distinction, and gave her the relevant knowledge to enhance her management skills. Even holidays for Anne and her husband, Richard, are chosen for their adventurous nature; her exotic list of past holiday destinations include Morocco, North Africa, the Sahara, Russia, the Artic and India. “I’m not very good at sitting still, so I like to challenge myself in a different way to the challenges I get a work.” With her working day starting at 7.30am and ending at about 7pm, Anne makes sure she gets to the gym (she admits to being a ‘gym junkie’) and any other free time is spent with her husband. “He has been a great support through my career, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him. At weekends we love to spend quality time together and enjoy what the Cotswolds has to offer. At this time of year you’ll probably find us walking in the Forest of Dean foraging for chestnuts! “This month, of course, I’ll be attending the Cheltenham Literature Festival; I have tickets to see Joe Simpson (author of ‘Touching the Void’) and Charley Boorman. I love anything travel related; I’m an adventurer at heart.” CS 


fostering fast business growth

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Proving that great businesses can grow in Gloucestershire through her formidable success with the fashion chain Supergroup, Diane Savory is now turning her seasoned business skills to the Glosfirst’s Local Enterprise Partnership as she heads up the Board as Chair... Diane Savory can be credited with completing one of last year’s most successful flotations on the stock market. As Chief Operating Officer of Cheltenham-based Supergroup, Diane worked alongside company founder and CEO Julian Dunkerton to propel the business forward and last year she was key to the success of the company’s flotation on the stock market for £395 million. Diane was a key member of the talented team that created one of the Cotswolds’ coolest fashion brands. Part of the company’s innovation was developing a unique brand to differentiate itself from other High Street offerings. It was then that the trendy Superdry brand was born thanks to the creative expertise of Julian and co-founder James Holder. “We needed to become niche again so we designed T-shirts that were a bit different. The Superdry brand was different to other offerings on the market.” Diane’s retail and business experience taught her that to go forward the business needed valuable structures in place to sustain growth and development. It was these solid foundations and much needed infrastructure that enabled the company to grow at an amazing rate. “It was the creativity of the team that worked on the brands and a little bit of luck that helped the company to be the success story that it is today. Supergroup has proved that great business can grow here in Gloucestershire,” says Diane, who stood down from Supergroup in May this year. And it is that message that Diane is passionately communicating to the business community in Gloucestershire as the Chair of the newly formed Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). “Gloucestershire has everything to make a business successful – it has the logistical NOVEMBER 2011

framework, good transport links to the rest of the country and the professional support to grow a business.” Diane’s role is to foster fast business growth in the region. And when she puts her mind to something she certainly makes it happen. “I want to connect education with the business community so the skills that are needed within enterprise are matched with the skills of the up-and-coming workforce. “There is a huge entrepreneurial spirit in Gloucestershire with a great diversity of businesses. We are leaders of innovation and my vision is to create strong business growth and new job opportunities for the future. We are at a pivotal moment in time with the current economic situation, and this is presenting opportunities that we can harness and take the Gloucestershire economy forward. We need schools to engage actively with business and to provide a workforce with skills that match the opportunities opening up in the marketplace; sectors such as Advanced Engineering, Technology and Tourism. Gloucestershire’s strength is its diversity of business; we excel in innovation.

Enterprise will propel our economy forward.” Diane’s passion for Gloucestershire is clear to see and it seems that no hurdle can stop her. She openly admits that her drive and determination is partly due to being a single mother for most of her son’s early years, being his sole provider from the age of two years old. “There was no-one else to provide for us so I had to do it. It made me more determined to succeed. “The best business lesson I’ve learnt is that if you see a hurdle be prepared to jump over it. It is only then that you can push your business forward to new heights.” And it is this empowering mindset that has brought Diane to where she is today, taking Gloucestershire’s business community to a whole new level. So, what is in Diane’s five year plan? “My goal is for the Gloucestershire LEP to be the most effective in the country to show that my vision, joining education and enterprise together, works. I want the business community to have the energy and the belief to take things forward.” CS

Sponsored by Jelf Women in Business is sponsored by Jelf, Westmoreland House, 80-86 Bath Road, Cheltenham. To find out more please contact Account Executive Jim Stevenson on 01242 225860. or visit


000 Meredithe Stuart-Smith DEC 2011:Layout 1

San Francisco to Cheltenham 22/11/2011


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women in business

Meredithe Stuart-Smith is the founder and MD of Meri Meri, an award-winning paper design company which has grown from a little network of mums working at her kitchen table to a multi-million pound business. Here, she shares her fascinating business journey with Eve Holmes...

Sponsored by Jelf Women in Business is sponsored by Jelf, Westmoreland House, 80-86 Bath Road, Cheltenham. To find out more please contact Account Executive Andrea Lavis on 01242 225860. or visit


When Meredithe Stuart-Smith started making specialist handmade cards there was nothing like it on the market. Sitting at her kitchen table in San Francisco with some scissors, felt-tip pens and a huge pot of glitter Meredithe spotted a trend in the market that she knew could be potentially huge. Using her artistic talent she set about creating a range of unique designs under the brand name of Meri Meri (her childhood nickname). She presented her small range of cards at the National Stationery Show and was greeted with an enthusiastic response. Today the company has won over 100 international awards and turns over £11 million pounds. Meredithe took the leap from San Francisco to Cheltenham in 1996 when she fell in love with an Englishman and decided to follow her heart to the UK. Assessing the market place, Meredithe was confident that her business concept would work over here and set about running part of the business from the UK. “I started distributing the cards and selling to John Lewis and the company started to grow in leaps and bounds.” With a 20-strong team of designers working from a studio in a 400-year-old building in Cheltenham, Meredithe set about expanding her range from cards to Gift Sets, Partywear, Advent Calendars and Cupcake Kits. As well as being a talented designer, Meredithe is extremely lucky to be naturally entrepreneurial, which has enabled her to take the business to incredible heights. Meri Meri has won five ‘Card of the Year’ awards and is known for its product innovation and trend-leading graphics. “I don’t really consider myself to be a

business woman, I am just fortunate enough to understand business,” says Meredithe. Her modesty continues when asked how she is able to spot emerging trends to keep the business driving forward. “I have the ability to see trends emerging and enter the market at the right time and I could see that cupcakes were going to be huge. We created our Cupcake Kits and they are now our biggest seller.” Innovation is a huge part of the business and Meredithe is proud to collaborate with the award-winning Hobbs House Bakery in Cirencester to produce an exclusive boxed set featuring a delicious cake mix for Easter. The product will be available in John Lewis for Easter and in the Hobbs House bakeries throughout the Cotswolds. “I am passionate about working with local businesses and it was thrilling to collaborate with a company that was so enthusiastic about creating a new and exciting product.” Meredithe’s passion for the Cotswolds continues further. “I’m honoured to be a Patron for the Cheltenham Festivals. They are an incredible asset for the local area and the community so I am passionate about supporting the events.” With two children and a busy career, how does Meredithe manage to balance career and family demands. “Modern technology lets women juggle family and a career and I’m able to keep my finger on the business while I’m out of the office.” So what’s in store for Meri Meri in 2012? “We will be continuing to create new products and strive to always stay one step ahead of the game.” CS 


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a winning instinct


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women in business

Co-founder of Commercial, Simone Hindmarch-Bye has created one of the largest independently-owned office services companies in the UK. Today, the company achieves over £30 million turnover and continues to lead the way with innovation...

Sponsored by Jelf Women in Business is sponsored by Jelf, Westmoreland House, 80-86 Bath Road, Cheltenham. To find out more please contact Account Executive Andrea Lavis on 01242 225860. or visit


Simone Hindmarch-Bye is intensely passionate about business and admits that the same discipline and determination she applies to her company, Commercial Group, stems from her hugely successful sporting career which saw her ranked seventh in the world as a former Commonwealth gold medal swimmer. Commercial is the largest, independently owned office services company in the UK, based in Cheltenham, which she started with her brother Arthur Hindmarch and university friend Alastair Adams in 1991. Armed with a £20,000 investment from their father, they set up business in a small office with one phone and started knocking on doors for their first contracts. “I remember being dropped off at the Kingsditch Industrial Estate, visiting all of the businesses and asking who was in charge of their office supplies,” says Simone. “Our aim was to be the best at what we did. My job was to get in front of the right people and secure 12 clients a month. Within a year the business had already grown considerably and we had our own offices. We were all in our early twenties and had the energy, belief and passion to make it a success.” Their success was, and still is, listening to customers’ needs , understanding the industry and knowing what the competition is doing. “We started out supplying more basic requirements to small firms but now we have grown to providing full interior refits and full IT support to some of the biggest companies in the UK,” says Simone, who strives to work as a business partner with customers, delivering added value services, and reducing costs where possible. The company’s turning point was winning a £500,000 contract with Sky, proving they were a viable alternative to the big boys in the industry. Their next big

achievement was reaching £20 million turnover. Now the company services 2,500 customers nationwide and serves their clients with the passion and energy they started with. Commercial is renowned for innovation in its field and after listening to a speech by Al Gore (promoting ‘An Inconvenient Truth) Simone admits she had ‘an epiphany moment’. “We knew we had to do something to make a difference.” Commercial was the first company in its sector to become CarbonNeutral, drastically reducing its carbon footprint, and the company was last year voted the Highest Ranking Newcomer in The Sunday Times ‘Best Green Companies 2011’ list. “In our industry green policies are a large part of the decision-making process for our customers, because they want to take advantage of subsidies for being environmentally friendly.” The company now achieves a turnover of over £30 million, employs 170 people and is on track to open a London office this year to service their clients in the City. “The shape of the company has changed in the last year due to the economic climate, but even though it’s been a tough year we can see huge opportunities in our interiors sector. Companies are making the most of their existing environment, creating the best working space possible for their employees and we have seen a 20 per cent growth in this sector since last year. It is vital for companies to offer their customers value for money and our new ‘switch and save’ offering on our e-procurement system Sprint, allows customers to compare prices of their supplies and choose the most economic option for their company. We are always looking at how to make life easier for our customers through e-commerce.” CS 


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a personal touch

women in business

Corinium Care Managing Director Camilla Miles is passionate about providing the best live-in care for the elderly. Here, she speaks to Eve Holmes about growing the business from a one-woman venture into an industry leader...



What started as a nanny agency nearly 20 years ago, has now transformed into one of the leading live-in care agencies in the UK with 800 registered carers and 19 staff at its head office in Nailsworth. Corinium Care specialises in the introduction of live-in carers for elderly people who are frail and vulnerable. The business has quadrupled in the last four years with turnover now at its highest ever. For Managing Director Camilla Miles, the business started nearly 20 years ago as a nanny agency which she ran from her kitchen table in Bisley. She bought the business from a former house mistress at Cheltenham Ladies’ College which she felt would fit in well with looking after a young baby. “I kept being asked if I could also find carers for elderly parents as well as nannies for their children, and it soon became very clear that there was a huge demand for elderly care,” says Camilla. Two years later she sold the nanny agency and set up Corinium Care to provide 24-hour live-in care for frail and elderly people. “Our service is very specific to the type of people who find it diffcult to manage alone but wish to stay in their own home. We have proved that live-in care is now a viable option so elderly people can maintain their independence.” Camilla soon realised that to provide the standard of care she wanted, the company would have to provide its own training to maintain the highest standards and personal service it prides itself on. The company now provides an awardwinning training programme for its carers which has gained international recognition. Corinium Care also won a 3 star Excellent rating from the Care Quality Commission in 2010. “Winning a National Training Award was one of the highlights for the company. We know how important it is for our clients to have the right person alongside them; that’s why our live-in carers are second to none. Our training programme is one of the reasons that the

business has grown so quickly in the last four years.” Corinium Care’s commitment to its clients is also matched by its loyalty to staff and the company can boast an impressive retention of its carers, some of whom have been with the company for 15 years. Many of the carers employed by Corinium Care are recruited through the company’s offices in South Africa, Zimbabwe and New Zealand. “Most of our carers are recruited from abroad; they are very focused on the job they come here to do and they are very committed to their customers.” Camilla admits that her biggest lesson in business has been to listen to customers and staff to ensure she is delivering exactly what people need. The company is also committed to ‘giving something back’, and donates equipment and a much-needed lifeline to the Zimbabwe Pensioners Support Fund. “My early career in the film industry was the most useful training as it gave me the experience in logistics and planning that I now use in my own business,” says Camilla. “I am very grateful that our business is growing when there are so many companies who are struggling. We are lucky to be based in a prosperous area of the country where people can pay for

private care. It is easy to run a business when you feel passionate about it.” And passion about service, training and clients certainly emanates from the very core of the business, with Camilla at the helm ensuring that the company delivers service to the highest standards at all times. “You have to earn your support in business and I am lucky to be surrounded by committed staff and a very supportive family.” CS Corinium Care, George Street, Nailsworth. Tel: 01453 839290.

Sponsored by Jelf Women in Business is sponsored by Jelf, Westmoreland House, 80-86 Bath Road, Cheltenham. To find out more please contact Account Executive Andrea Lavis on 01242 225860. or visit


000 Jelf Angela Rose March 12:Layout 1



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stylish and exciting

women in business

Director of Beards, Angela Rose, is the fifth generation of the family to run the company and has taken the traditional jewellers to new heights. Here, she talks to Eve Holmes about her incredible journey. Photograph Phil Stevens Taking the helm of a prestigious family business which has been in existence for generations may seem a little daunting to some, but Angela Rose, Director of Beards, has taken it all in her stride and is the fifth generation of the family to run the company with her sons Alex and Olly Rose and daughter Kat. Angela entered the family business when she was just 17, working on watch repairs and administration. A short break from the business was spent taking a secretarial course in London and after marrying and moving back to Gloucestershire, Angela returned to work with her father and learned the trade. “At that time we had two shops, one was the original Waite and Sons which started in 1804 and our Promenade shop, which my grandfather bought in the 1930s. “It was a very male dominated industry and women didn’t even come in to buy jewellery for themselves,” says Angela, who diligently learnt every job in the business to earn respect from her peers and the staff who had worked loyally for her father. When it was time to take over the business, Angela was passionate about upholding the company’s traditional values of customer care and passion for design, but saw a new era where innovation would propel the company forward. In 1986 Angela was responsible for re-designing the Promenade showroom, putting her mark firmly on the business. “I already had a passion for architecture so re-designing the shop was my defining moment and a real shift from the traditional jeweller to an open, bright and airy showroom.” It was a bold move but one that paid off and took the business into a new stratosphere. Keen to evolve their designs and to bring innovative products to customers, Angela travelled to Italy and MARCH 2012

Hong Kong to source new manufacturers and designs. “Designers were then queueing up to work with us and customers were coming to us for our innovation and originality and they still are today.” Quality, beauty and distinctiveness characterise Beards’ homegrown jewellery which is manufactured in its workshops at its Promenade shop, using the finest materials including solid golds, sterling silver, platinum, coloured stones and diamonds. Angela has taken every new step in business in her stride. When asked how she has coped with building such a formidable career whilst raising four children Angela replies with genuine modesty and strength of character. “I didn’t think about it really I just got on and did it like any other working mother.” Angela credits her children with helping her to keep in touch with a younger generation of Beards customers, seeking out contemporary and unusual jewellery to offer customers something stylish and exciting. Investment in training is taken very seriously at Beards with huge efforts taken to ensure staff have excellent product knowledge. The company was recently named as an Investor in People as a result of much improved staff development and company strategy. Beards now has its first presence in London with a new showroom in Queen Street, Mayfair. “The new showroom was essential so that we could properly manage our London clients,” says Angela. Now taking a back seat to let the sixth generation of the family take over, Angela has one piece of advice. “Running the family business has been an honour, and it is essential to communicate well with each other and to listen to customers and staff. That has been my greatest business lesson.” CS

Sponsored by Jelf Women in Business is sponsored by Jelf, Westmoreland House, 80-86 Bath Road, Cheltenham. To find out more please contact Account Executive Andrea Lavis on 01242 225860. or visit


Jelf Women In Business  

Our monthly interview with an inspirational woman in business.

Jelf Women In Business  

Our monthly interview with an inspirational woman in business.