Belfast Telegraph

Pre-tax profits rise to £1.7m for jewellers Argento

By Staff Reporter

Northern Ireland mid-market jeweller Argento has seen pre-tax profits rise by 60% to £1.69m in 2014.

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

Pre-tax profits rose by £599,725 to £16.9m from £1.1m in 2013, in the 12 months to June 30, 2014.

In a statement accompanying abbreviated accounts, the company said it had experienced "another profitable year despite difficult ongoing market conditions".

"A concerted campaign of discounting old stock resulted in a fall in the gross profit percentage achieved. However, this was offset by a decrease in overheads."

In August company founder Peter 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.

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

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

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

Gareth Shiells, an associate at commercial property agent Savills in Dublin, which secured the site for Argento, said last year rents had fallen by up to 50% on the street, with Argento paying €70,000 per year (£56,000).

Last October in the run up to Christmas, £80,000 worth of the company's stock was stolen from a warehouse in Craigavon.

The company's accounts said the industry was still seeing challenging economic conditions but added that the firm was "well established".

"Based on the consistent increase in turnover year on year, the industry is performing well and appears strong despite the challenging economic environment."

The company, which employs 315 people, was founded in 1997, after Mr Boyle started out selling jewellery from a street stall.

Mr Boyle has said that lessons learned as a market and stall trader were still valuable. "It is all about hard work, and you must be competitive. You can never sit on your laurels because someone will take your business off you."

Belfast Telegraph