Fam­ily busi­ness proves it’s a real gem

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - REXINE HAWES

While many Mata­mata busi­nesses started in the 1970s and 1980s have closed, fam­ily busi­ness Wil­liams Jewellers have with­stood chal­lenges and face them head on.

Wil­liams Jewellers was started in De­cem­ber 1979, when Brian Wil­liams, a for­mer me­chanic and farmer, and his wife Val brought the busi­ness from Ken Cox­head.

Their son Bret joined the busi­ness from school in the early 1980s and stud­ied by cor­re­spon­dence to be­come a Fel­low of the Gem­mo­log­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion of Great Bri­tain, and foun­da­tion mem­ber of the New Zealand Jew­ellery Valuers So­ci­ety.

Younger brother Gary started a few years later.

‘‘We learned from dad, and what was passed down from Ken.’’

Brian has since re­tired from the busi­ness, but Val has stayed on, work­ing part-time along­side her sons who now run the busi­ness.

When Bret left for Oa­maru six months ago, Gary’s wife Joy joined the busi­ness.

Bret is still a busi­ness part­ner and val­ues items cus­tomers bring in.

‘‘We can’t do val­u­a­tions on­site, but we send them to him,’’ said Gary.

‘‘We were very lucky to have Bret, peo­ple may not re­alise how spoilt they were to have a val­uer here. He was one of a few store­based valuers, most work from labs and work had to be sent away. It was quite unique,’’ said Gary.

Of course most busi­nesses have com­pe­ti­tion, and like many other re­tail­ers, on-line shop­ping is a huge chal­lenge.

‘‘On-line shop­ping is the big­gest change to re­tail. Peo­ple come in for a ring size and then leave, you know they are go­ing to find it on-line.

‘‘In jew­ellery, the big­gest change in the last 10 years is buy­ing branded items. It’s be­come mas­sive hav­ing Pan­dora, and prod­ucts like that.’’

Gary says most of the jew­ellery they buy in is from Aus­tralia. While they would chose to sup­port New Zealand made, he says most man­u­fac­tur­ers here have not been able to com­pete with overseas mar­kets.

Junk jew­ellery is also a chal­lenge, but Gary says it’s just another type of com­pe­ti­tion and their rule in busi­ness is just to stick to what they know.

‘‘Keep­ing a busi­ness is hard work. We are work­ing harder and harder ev­ery year but the re­turns are get­ting bet­ter. You stick to your knit­ting, what you do well.

‘‘You get to know your town and what they want. With dad be­ing born here, he knows the town well. We are lucky, the lo­cals are in­cred­i­bly loyal.’’


Keep­ing the busi­ness in the fam­ily. Wil­liams Jew­ellery owner Val Wil­liams, her son Gary and daugh­ter-in-law Joy Wil­liams.

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