If you need jewellery in the United Kingdom or Ireland, there’s a good chance you’ve considered a trip to H. Samuel or visited their website. You probably know a number of people who have shopped their themselves. The company is one of the largest jewellery chains in the UK and the absolute largest middle mass-market store in that category. With 375 stores to its name, as of February, 2008, it’s not hard to see why.
Background and History
The story of this jewellery store started back in 1862. At the time, Harriet Samuel took over a clock making and silversmith business that had belonged to her father-in-law, Moses Samuel. It was located in Liverpool, so Harriet moved it to Manchester’s Market Street. While her son took over developing the retail side of things, Samuel saw to the mail order component.
Finally, in 1890, the first H. Samuel store was founded in Preston. Soon thereafter, two more were started in Lancashire and Rochdale. By 1912, the business was so large they needed a bigger headquarters to accommodate it and moved to Birmingham.
When the war ended, the grandsons of Harriet Samuel took over the business. Gilbert was Chairman and Robert Vice Chairman. It would later be successfully entered on the stock exchange in 1948.
Over time, the number of H. Samuel stores would rise to 200 under the management of Gilbert Samuel. He would also be awarded a CBE for public and political services. Later, he was made Queen’s Sheriff for the City of London and even won an election to become Master of the Clockmakers Company.
When the brothers died, the son of Robert took over the role as Chairman. He acquired the James Walker Group in 1984, which effectively doubled the size of the company in the United Kingdom.
Millennium Format Stores
One of the secrets to H. Samuel’s success, as of late, has been how they’ve revamped many of their physical stores. While they didn’t necessarily create the idea, it’s fair to say they’ve been one of the pioneers of this method and that sales have benefited widely.
Essentially, what they did was do away with the traditional method of having an arcade style window for onlookers to peer through at the jewellery inside. They then installed display cases kept at low levels and pointing toward the lease line in their mall locations. In high street stores, they use bigger windows that extend from the floor to the ceiling.
The resulting benefit from this technique is that it disallows customers from being able to simply window shop. Instead, they must enter the store to take a look at all the beautiful jewellery inside, which gives H. Samuel customer representatives a chance to sell them on making a purchase.
The Signer Group
Samuel also benefits from the fact that it’s a member of the Signet Group. This company also owns the Leslie Davis and Ernest Jones high-street jewellery stores located throughout the United Kingdom. In America, Signet Group also owns Sterling which is the country’s largest speciality jewellery retailer. Sterling owns 10 brands in all, including Jared the Galleria of Jewellery and Kay brand.
As a traditional business, H. Samuel was slow to take to the online marketplace. However, they launched their first e-commerce site in 2005. On the website, you can find all their major offerings from watches to wedding bands to collectibles and more. they also run exclusive deals and discounts through this site for customers shopping online.
Another advantage you get from using the company’s e-commerce site is that you can see what the most searched for products are by other customers. Typical entries include ladies watches, engagement rings and men’s watches.
You can also search for what is specifically in season, so you’ll never have a hard time being fashionable. Here, you’ll typically find things like Swarovski pieces, Open Hearts, Chamilia and the like.
Through their website, the company offers fairly typical delivery options like standard and express. However, you can also opt to receive free delivery if you go and pick up your purchase at an H. Samuel store nearby.
No matter which version you choose, the website will allow you to track your order wherever you decide to send it to.
Should it show up and you find out it’s not what you want, the company offers free returns. They even allow for a 30 day “cooling off period” because they understand how hard it can be to fight your impulses when confronted with a gorgeous piece of affordable jewellery. Personalized or engraved items don’t qualify, however.
You have the option of returning your item by post or you can simply find a local H. Samuel store and return your item through them. Either way, the same policies and benefits apply.
For all these reasons and more, it’s worth thinking about buying your next piece of jewellery from H. Samuel.