NWJ celebrates 30 successful years


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Although most people are under the impression that ‘life only begins at 30’, NWJ Fine Jewellery (NWJ) has defied this statement and proved that the first 30 years is as rewarding and exciting as you make it.

“NWJ is the only franchised jewellery brand in South Africa, and with over 70 outlets across the country and more stores earmarked to open during the course of the year, we are extremely excited to be celebrating 30 successful years in business,”explains Duncan Crosson, CEO of NWJ.

Initially called Natal Wholesale Jewellers, the first store was opened in London House Arcade in Durban in July 1983.  “Hylton Rabinowitz and his wife, Sue, opened and ran the store themselves and, as a result of Hyltons position as a non-executive director on the Taste Holdings board, we are proud that 30 years later he is still part of the NWJ family,” says Crosson. 

NWJ CEO, Duncan Crosson, gets ready to cut the cake and celebrate their 30th birthday with Mark Madeisky, NWJ General Manager. >>

He continues, “Hylton was a successful restaurateur in Durban but was always intrigued by the allure of diamonds. He started trading in diamonds and realised that there was an opportunity to open a retail outlet, hence Natal Wholesale Jewellers was borne”.

Having opened its doors with a total of 2 staff members, NWJ has grown to a company which now employs 171 permanent staff members (this excludes the Franchise stores).

Great customer service and the promise to always give customers the best price possible ensured that NWJ has steadily continued to grow. In 1997 NWJ expanded beyond KwaZulu Natal and opened its first Gauteng store, in 2000 the first franchised NWJ store opened in Kloof (KZN), and in 2008 the brand was purchased by JSE listed company Taste Holdings.  Taste is a South African based management group that is invested in a portfolio of franchised, category specialist and retail brands including Scooters Pizza, Maxi’s, St. Elmo’s , The Fish & Chip Co. and NWJ

Duncan Crosson, CEO of NWJ, gets ready to cut the cake in celebration of 30 successful years. >>

Today NWJ is a vertically integrated chain of branded retail outlets specialising in a wide range of quality, affordable jewellery and watches for consumers. Approximately 45% of the NWJ range is manufactured in its in-house facility. “Having our own manufacturing facility gives us a competitive edge over other jewellery retailers as it means that we do not have to deal with ‘middlemen’ for 45% of our product requirements and are therefore able to offer the best possible prices for our jewellery, and also that we are able to keep up-to-date with the latest fashions instead of having to rely on suppliers to keep ahead of the international jewellery trends,” says Crosson.

He continues, “In addition to this lead times for innovation and introducing new trends are also substantially reduced”.  In 2012 the manufacturing facility recorded that 41 400kg of gold was used, 22 576kg of silver was used, and 466 228 stones were set. The manufacturing facility, which was founded in 1928, was originally responsible for all NWJ repairs and was subsequently purchased by NWJ in 1985.

The growth that NWJ has enjoyed refers to more than just its number of employees and outlets. To cater for their growing number of customers, NWJ has introduced a variety of private label brands including Sterling watches (1995), Latan watches (1997), Tsar mens jewellery (2006), Kimmi Kay (2009), Soul (2011) and Bella Toni (2012). These brands complement other popular brands offered by NWJ including Guess, Lorus, Lanco, Hallmark, Citizen, Police, Casio, Seiko and Fossil.

NWJ have just completed an excellent year, reporting a growth of 24% on the previous year, an increase in operating profit to R28.6m and same store sales growth of 14.3% with an all store increase of 8.2%, an industry high for the year

Over the past 30 years the NWJ brand has achieved some major milestones. Not only has it been voted the ‘Best Place to Buy Jewellery’ in the Readers’ Choice survey for nine years running, but they were also the first jeweller in the country to obtain the SABS guarantee of gold content, which NWJ still carries today.

Crosson explains, “When starting the business Hylton noted that there was a growing need to reassure customers of the quality and content of the gold they were purchasing. Therefore to ensure customers’ confidence in their jewellery he obtained SABS rating. The ethical principles that NWJ was founded on are still true in our offering today.”

With 30 successful years under their belt, NWJ enters into this new decade with plans to continue growing the brand in South Africa, as well as to introduce the brand into other parts of the African continent.

“We have identified that there are additional opportunities in neighbouring territories where we are confident that our offering and ability to execute a great shopping environment will provide us with additional growth. We are therefore extremely confident that in the years to come NWJ will be a success in other parts of Africa,” confirms Crosson.

Throughout the month of July, their 30th birthday month, NWJ will celebrating with all of their customers and will be offering 50% off on all jewellery. In addition to this, NWJ will be selling a 30th birthday commemorative set.

“We look forward to a celebratory birthday month and to the next 30 years, which we are sure will be just as successful,” ends Crosson.

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