Standing the Test of Time
Hemsleys Jewellers proves the key to long-term success lies in an ability to adapt
In an age where consumer needs are constantly shifting, running a successful business can be difficult. Only the most adaptable can survive the fast-paced changes while still being able to provide competitive pricing, high quality goods and great service.
The team at Hemsleys Jewellers prides themselves in being able to accommodate all demographics—while still staying true to their vision. Located on the TransCanada Highway, they continue to flourish and grow their business.
“You have to have all sorts of different styles and options because people’s tastes vary,” says Richard Hennick, president of Hemsleys Jewellers. “What’s most important in this industry is not just design and price, but also service.”
A Diamond is Forever
There is something to be said about a business that has made it through the ups and downs of the jewellery industry for 146 years. As such, the Hemsley name carries with it a strong sense of tradition and integrity.
Hemsleys Jewellers’ history dates back to 1870, when Richard Hemsley opened the first location on Rue St. James in Old Montreal. Originally named Hemsley’s, the name was later changed to accommodate the Quebec language laws during the 1970s. Hemsley moved the store in 1889 when he took over the lease of another jewellery company. The store was kept in the family until the 1930s, when it was sold to the Herman family.
The Hennick family became the owners of the prestigious jewellery store in the 1960s. Even with the changes, the history of the company is well known within the community, giving the entire operation a timeless air.
Keeping it in the Family
“I was born into the jewellery business,” says Hennick. “We came from a manufacturing background, so we grew up with it and it morphed into a career for my whole family.”
“I grew up sweeping the factory floor, grinding the rings, doing the deliveries, helping with the casting, and the stone sorting,” he recalls. Over the years, Hennick’s passion for the family business—and the jewellery industry—only grew, inspiring him to take over the company in 1983.
“I moved to Montreal to fill in while we looked for a new manager,” Hennick says. “It’s been 33 years and I’m still here.”
Now, the family tradition is being passed on to Hennick’s son Jordan.
“That’s why people keep coming back,” adds Hennick. “Not only are we third generation, but so are our customers.”
Throughout the Hennick family’s long career running Hemsleys, they have managed to further solidify the business’s position in the industry. With their deep knowledge of the manufacturing world and the rich history of the store, Hemsleys has become an unstoppable force.
The New Face of Luxury
Over the years, the Hemsleys team has had to repeatedly reconsider the most effective ways in which to appeal to the ever-changing definition of luxury. In today’s world, the luxury market has fallen into the hands of a new group of consumers: namely, Millennials.
While customers are becoming more knowledgeable, their habits have not changed as drastically as one might think—they still want many of the same things. As such, service continues to be an important pillar of the luxury market.
“Consumers are a lot more educated these days,” he notes. “They have become a lot more demanding in what they want, and you need to appeal to their desires and wants. People who can afford luxury items can also travel the world, so they get to see all sorts of different ideas. As such, you have to give them what they ask for.”
Hennick adds that serving customers with varying tastes also means being prepared to cater to new demands.
“We try and choose brands that don’t conflict with each other,” he explains. “If we see one brand has certain things, we try not to go to another brand and choose similar merchandise. We try and set each brand apart so that there isn’t a conflict of design, style or price point.”
The store carries various top brands, including Baume and Mercier, Tag Heuer, Simon G., Tissot, Hearts on Fire, Greg Ruth and Artcarved. However, they also produce their own in-house product line and offer custom designs to bridge any gaps.
Creating a Community
The first thing that comes to mind in a family business the owner. And, as businesses become increasingly customer-oriented, the clientele begins to feel like family as well.
“Once you start with someone and you gain their trust, you have to be able to grow with them,” Hennick says. “We see the first girlfriend’s birthday, we see the bat mitzvah presents, wedding presents, graduation presents, and we see the birth of the children.”
Hennick knows that when a customer walks into Hemsleys, they feel they’re in good hands.
“These days, there are so many options that when we buy, we try and buy across the board so there are options for everyone,” he continues. “Some months, it’s more custom work and less showcase.”
Not only does the Hemsleys team stress the importance of keeping a happy client base, but they also give back to the community. They often put together in-store charity events that help raise money for local hospitals and cancer research.
Looking to the Future
With more and more consumers logging online for their shopping needs, many companies are looking to add e-commerce to their business. However, Hennick isn’t convinced that it should be a top priority.
“In our industry, it’s touch and feel. You have to try it on and adjust it. It’s hard to buy jewellery online,” he says.
Hemsleys knows that to stand out amongst their competitors, they need to give their clients options. Between the brands they work with, their own collection, and their custom work, endless choices exist for their customers.
Hemsleys prides themselves in offering the 4 C’s of retail: classic style and service, commitment to excellence; a comprehensive range of jewellery, watches and gifts, and custom designs. These four pillars—along with a strong sense of family history—make up the foundation of the company, which is sure to remain unwavering for years to come.