The Company of Master Jewellers was in lock-down today as news that Willie Hamilton, the buying group’s flamboyant chief executive, had resigned.
Members were informed about the abrupt departure this morning. One told Professional Jeweller, sister publication to WatchPro, that today was Mr Hamilton’s last day.
Other board members said all questions should be put to The CMJ’s chairman Michael Aldridge. However, his mobile phone went to voicemail when we called this morning.
Mr Hamilton did not answer his mobile or respond to a voicemail today.
Lucy Reece-Raybould, executive director of business development and marketing, could not be reached.
Professional Jeweller heard speculation last week that changes were afoot.
Questions have been raised by members in recent weeks about the payment of a £195,000 bonus paid to a senior member of the CMJ executive team that was revealed in the 2016 accounts. The name of the executive was not disclosed.
There were also rumblings about the size of rebates paid last year, although this is not uncommon at this time of year.
Members will get the opportunity to talk to CMJ board members at this weekend’s trade meeting in Birmingham.
The CMJ sent out the following statement to members and the media this morning:
“After ten years as CEO of The Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ), Willie Hamilton has announced his departure from the business.
Commenting on the move, CMJ chairman, Michael Aldridge said: “Willie has now decided to pursue a career opportunity closer to his new home in the South of England and will announce his new appointment in due course”. Terry Boot, who has been working within the business as Head of Finance and Business Operations, will in the interim take control on a day to day basis until a successor has been appointed.
Aldridge commented: “During Willie Hamilton’s tenure, he has brought a wealth of previous industry experience in operations and marketing to CMJ and we wish him well and all the best for the future”.
CMJ has seen unprecedented successful growth during the past ten years to become the UK’s biggest and most influential jewellery buying group of independent retail jewellers across the UK and Ireland. CMJ currently has over 150 members, representing over 400 individual shops across the UK and Ireland, with over 120 approved suppliers including some of the UK’s most successful high street jewellery and watch brands.
Hamilton said: “After ten years, I now have a new career ahead of me. I wish all the members and suppliers within the CMJ Group well, as they continue to build on the success of the UK’ biggest jewellery buying group.”
Hamilton’s exit is the second high-profile leadership change at the organisation in the space of two months.