A GEM of an opportunity

An established, quality retail chain, GEMS is seeking individuals who are passionate about jewellery and retail to spearhead its expansion

A thriving chain of jewellery retail shops which has established itself in shopping mall locations across Northern Ireland, GEMS has announced the launch of its franchise opportunity. The company is seeking to continue its superb unit growth, which has seen GEMS open seven locations through the recruitment of committed, enthusiastic individuals with good managerial and communications skills and a naturally friendly manner as franchise owners.

The GEMS concept was first established in 1989, moving into larger premises in 1992 before expanding into a chain in subsequent years through the leadership of Founder Paul Campbell. "For many years we have considered franchising as the way of expanding this operation," he relates. "We have engaged FDS Ireland to assist us in creating a strong franchise package as we move our expansion forward."

FDS Ireland consultants Gordon Patterson and Gary Rigby report: "Great care has been taken to structure the GEMS franchise in a totally professional manner and ensure that the franchise owner has a genuine opportunity to enjoy very attractive earnings."

With its lush, professionally-designed shop frontage and interior décor, GEMS is positioned to enter the strongest performing shopping malls. All stock is supplied by GEMS which enables the franchisor to ensure that all franchise owners are stocking the best selling and most profitable items and brands. In addition, franchises are supported by continual national marketing, regular onsite visits by area support managers, specially negotiated prices with suppliers, ongoing refresher training programmes, innovative staff incentives, a finance scheme for customer purchases and a centralised jewellery and watch repair service.

Central to the operation of the business is GEMS' bespoke software system GBOS, established in its existing shops since 2006. "GBOS has been designed to maximise business efficiency, provide key performance indicators and act as an important management tool," says Paul. "Every piece of jewellery has a place within the IT system which can provide knowledge of stockholding and transactions on a day-to-day basis. The system is provided to the franchise owner under a licence and is updated continually by head office.

"The business model is ever evolving and franchise owners will benefit from our up-to-date know-how on an ongoing basis. GEMS seeks to deliver in every shop and to every customer the unique GEMS customer experience. This is the outstanding distinctiveness of the GEMS success formula. Customers are not only proud of their purchase, but are left with a very pleasing memory of the customer experience."

In consultation with Franchise Development Services Ireland, which has provided its franchise expertise to help tailor the franchise package, GEMS has a full pre-launch process in place to prepare franchise owners for a successful and impactful launch. The first step is site selection and lease negotiation, in which the franchisor will assist in accordance with its site selection criteria. "We will identify a retail site that provides a location and a local catchment area which maximises the success of the franchise," says Paul. "Typically a GEMS premises has excellent visibility and is in a high pedestrian site location."

Franchise owners are prepared for the operation of a GEMS franchise through a comprehensive training programme covering an initial three week period. This incorporates classroom inductions as well as onsite practical experience and covers product knowledge, in-shop procedures, corporate image standards, window display requirements, internal ambience, use of GBOS, local promotional activity, understanding the key performance indicators, staff recruitment/training and management, customer servicing and delivering the GEMS customer experience.

Finally a franchise owner prepares for the opening of their business through the GEMS launch programme, which is designed to create maximum brand awareness in their catchment area. "As franchisor we deliver a franchise package that provides everything necessary for an effective launch of the business at a new location," says Paul. "Gems provides the opportunity for franchise owners to enjoy rich rewards and is suitable for people who are passionate about beautiful jewellery and can enjoy the romance associated with helping clients choose the item that is best for them."

Reported by Stuart Anderson