‘Thrill room’ to help keep jeweller Rox on a roll

JEWELLERY business Rox has an eye on the retail hot-spots of Leeds, London and Manchester as it plots an expansion beyond its Scottish heartland.

The firm, which will have five branches after it opens a £1 million Edinburgh emporium this month, believes it can shrug off the gloomy consumer backdrop and add a store a year over the next decade.

Rox will continue to invest heavily in a website that accounts for about 15 per cent of turnover.

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Last year, the firm launched what is believed to be the UK’s first “m-commerce” jewellery website, designed solely for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Overall turnover at Rox, which launched in 2002 with a store in Glasgow’s Argyll Arcade, is expected to reach £10m this year.

Kyron Keogh, who co-founded the company with business partner Grant Mitchell, said the aim was to double sales over the next ten years.

“We have been very cautious operators to date and don’t want to overstretch ourselves,” he said. “But if this latest store proves to be a success for us then we plan to open a shop a year.

“When we opened in Aberdeen in 2009 the business completely changed in terms of being able to support volume. We had to invest in infrastructure, create a head office, a buying team and a marketing team.

“With a marginal increase in overhead, we could have 20 shops operating out of our current head office facility. Once we have our fixed overhead covered and we are profitable with our existing stores every store we add can make a contribution. The business is properly scalable.”

Keogh, who has a background in surveying and software, said there was likely to be scope for one more shop in Scotland, where Rox has three outlets in Glasgow and one in Aberdeen.

“As we are essentially a city-centre brand, the key locations for us would be Manchester, Leeds, even London,” he added.

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The Edinburgh store, which will open in the newly redeveloped Assembly Rooms on the city’s George Street, marks a £1m investment in fitting, fixtures and stock.

The new outlet will incorporate a champagne bar, sponsored by Laurent Perrier, and a “thrill room” private shopping lounge. It is set to add 14 staff to the 80 or so already working for the firm.

Since opening in Argyll Arcade – home to more than 30 jewellers and diamond merchants – Rox has built its reputation on diamond engagement rings.

Mitchell had established the Lewis Grant/Antwerp Diamond Company in the same city centre location in 1993.

The firm has built up a portfolio of luxury brands as well as launching its own branded products.

The luxury goods market has proven resilient to the ­global downturn, though some analysts have warned it remains vulnerable to any slowdown in demand from China.

Buy tomorrow’s Scotsman to read an interview with Rox’s Kyron Keogh.

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