Brought up and raised in the city of Hull, I may have some skin in the game here but what Blowers has done and continues to do is special.
Founded in 1970 and located on Savile Street right in the centre of town, Blowers has been a mainstay in Hull’s luxury offering for over half a century now and if it continues with the excellent work done so far, it looks set to continue and actually increase its footprint both in Hull and in the capital.
Ian Blowers started the business in the 70s and quickly went from strength to strength, as did his son’s Squash career. As the business grew and turned into a success, Mark, now managing director, managed to offer his more youthful look at business and lend a hand to his father as and when he could get some time off Squash matches or practice.
Despite this early success for both parties, it was quickly halted after a terrible incident of armed robbery at the premises in Hull. While Mark was up in Scotland playing in a Squash competition, his Father and the business fell victim to an attack which left Ian severely shaken up and it was this which saw Mark enter the business on a full-time basis.
In conversation with Mark, he explained: “I was already, at some point, considering hanging up my squash racket and working with him full-time but this definitely sped up the process. I was on my way to the North of Scotland to play in a Squash tournament when I got a message through, and it was before the days of smartphones so it was much less instantaneous.
“They’d said there was a problem at the jewellers in Hull but then a little later we realised it was more serious than the first message had maybe let on so had to quickly get back and help, knowing it was a bad robbery.”
He continued: “This guy was serious. He was wanted for several murders and he had guns. By the looks of things too it had been apparent he had wanted to tie him up. My old man’s tough so he did managed to get over it well but it was pretty clear I should get properly involved and help.”
This was in the mid to late 90s when in terms of e-commerce and the internet was only just really starting to take off. Mark explained that it was over the next year or so he really managed to see potential for success with the business and making use of online, digital and turning that into sales.
Being what would be described as a traditional northern business of the time, Mark says his father was a little apprehensive when adopting new technologies but it wasn’t long until he learnt the benefits.
Mark said: “When we first set things up using the online side of things, I had next to no skills in computing or that kind of thing. It was a case of taking advice from other people who had done something similar and learn from them the best we could.
“Through all of that my Dad was actually quite sarcastic about the whole thing. He didn’t really think anybody would actually end up buying a watch after a process online. It was a good six months or so developing that but we did fairly quickly get a sale from a client in London.”
He went on: “It was literally a question of ‘Can you send me an email?’ It took 40 minutes for us to unplug the telephone, plug in the modem and send that email. That turned into our first online sale.”
From that point on the business has gone from strength to strength, so much so that having a place in Mayfair is as important for business as the main store in Hull.
Over the last 18 months Blowers has also remained buoyant and has come out of the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic in a strong enough position to look ahead to the future and ensure it is perfectly positioned in the market to continue to grow.
The business always has and is continued to be built on its reputation which I know from my youth in Hull is second to none. The watches sold by Blowers are hand selected and prepared to its own exacting standards set by its approved service network.
Mark explained: “All watches advertised by Blowers are physically in stock and can be viewed at our Kingston-Upon-Hull Head Office or our exclusive Mayfair Showroom (by appointment) in the heart of Central London.”
Adding: “We only sell watches that we are happy to receive back in part exchange, we provide an expert opinion and relaxed approach to our guests, we respect our client’s wishes of total discretion or the pomp and ceremony that special purchase deserves.”
It celebrated its 50 years in 2020 which was unfortunately dampened by the COVID-19 outbreak but nevertheless, Mark Blowers is keen to ensure the next 50 are as successful as the last, something he sees as very doable given the nature of the business.
He concluded: “I think given the fact we are a relatively small and nimble business we can adapt and change to be on the path we want and need to be on given the current state of the market.
“A huge increase in the volume of stock that’s been offered at the minute on the secondary market will inevitably mean that the prices will come down a little but we’ve got no concerns about the strength of the pre-owned market for those who operate in the way we do.
“We’ve operated in such a fair and friendly way in everything that we do, if there are any major changes in the industry I am sure we will be more than capable of adapting and changing to the market.”
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