Belfast Telegraph

Argento expansion gathers pace with £2.2m investment

By John Mulgrew

Jeweller Argento is expanding its retail empire with a £2.2m investment - creating 125 new jobs by the end of next year. The brainchild of Strabane man Pete Boyle, Argento is growing its raft of stores to 60 across Northern Ireland and throughout the rest of the UK.

The company, which also operates a large network of Pandora stores, stocks designer jewellery brands including Pandora, Thomas Sabo and Daisy, along with its own ranges.

And in its latest set of accounts, the business saw its pre-tax profits rise by 60% to £1.69m in 2014.

The firm, which currently has 50 stores throughout the UK and Ireland, saw turnover rise from £20.8m back in 2013 to £24.3m last year.

Argento has added six new stores to its retail portfolio this year.

That includes two new Argento stores in Holywood and Strabane, and four Pandora stores in Newtownabbey, Glasgow, Newbury and Leicester.

Next year, it is planning to open further Pandora and Argento stores in Scotland, England and the Isle of Man.

It is also planning to create Northern Ireland's largest Pandora "megastore" in Belfast.

Chief executive Pete Boyle said it was "an ambitious company" which is "keen to match the growing demand for the quality products we offer and the service we provide - not just online but right across all of our expanding retail network."

"Our latest investment programme prioritises the development of new stores in areas with good growth potential, and it also outlines a clear pathway for more targeted enhancements and improvements in several existing, successful stores.

"We look forward to bringing further jobs and investment across all our locations."

Next year, the company plans to extend this to two more Argento stores, including Sligo and Newtownards.

The Belfast-based business invested more than £1m in opening seven new stores in Northern Ireland and Scotland back in 2014.

The business is still owned and run by Mr Boyle, who set up the company in 1997. Since then, the firm has become a well-known brand, witnessing solid growth in sales and profit.

"However, online sales remain hugely important and we are delighted that our focus in this area is well-balanced by our strong presence on the high street," he said.

"Next year is a big year for Argento as we look to bring our total store count to 60 and we remain confident for the future."

Argento's pre-tax profits rose by £599,725 to £1.69m from £1.1m in 2013 in the 12 months to June 30 2014.

The firm's accounts show a £909,000 property charge, believed to be related to its purchase of the former Lunn's Jewellers on Belfast's Royal Avenue.

The purchase of its now flagship store was the first time it has bought its own shop.

In August last year, Mr Boyle told the Belfast Telegraph the previous 12 months had been the busiest in the company's 17-year history as it splashed out on investments and refits.

In July 2014, Argento opened a store on Dublin's Grafton Street, once one of the most expensive retail locations in the world.

Belfast Telegraph