HOT 100 2014: Michael Hyman,Leonard Dews Jewellers

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When personal tragedy strikes, it can be tempting to shut down, to close yourself off. But for a special few it forces them to dig deep and provides a new purpose, something that has been true for Michael Hyman.

Rolex and Patek Philippe agent Leonard Dews Jewellers in Blackpool is a historic business that dates back to 1877, and in the past few years it has grown and changed under the direction of Michael, who, with the help of his senior management team, has increased turnover five-fold in the past decade. He has also overseen the purchase and conversion of The Talbot, the oldest pub in Lytham, into a 13,000 sq ft development comprising four shops, three apartments, office and storage facilities. He also purchased the freehold of the building its Blackpool store has occupied since 1926, something that allowed him to double the size of the shop in 2011.

Then last year Michael received some devastating news. “Being diagnosed with prostate cancer last year gave me the opportunity to delegate and empower my senior team,” reflects Michael. “This was always my long-term ambition but I never thought it would happen in this way.”

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This upbeat vision of opportunities rather than obstacles is typical of this retail boss, and in the wake of his diagnosis business has not slowed any.Through careful delegation, Michael and his team reached a landmark this year. “We completed the move to a brand new purpose-built store, back to our ancestral home on Strand Street in Douglas on the Isle of Man,” says Michael, who adds that the site of Wilkins the Jeweller follows the pattern of its other buildings with a mix of retail, commercial and residential property.

Michael’s diagnosis has also set him off in a new entrepreneurial direction, a philanthropic one. “My goal was to give something back and to help fund research into the causes and effects of prostate cancer at The Christie [Europe’s largest cancer centre in Manchester],” he explains. “My aim was to raise over £100,000 in three years but hopefully by the time this magazine is printed I may well have achieved over £50,000 in just over 12 months.”
And we believe he will have, because there’s certainly no stopping this Retail Titan.

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