Sparkling future ahead for Gemporia Partnership following funding from Santander UK
Santander UK is supporting gemstone jewellery, craft retailer and TV shopping broadcaster Gemporia Partnership with a funding package worth more than £30m.
Included in the funding package is a five-year £25m term loan that supports repayment of existing facilities following the sale of Gemporia Partnership to an Employee Ownership Trust in 2017. The funding enables the business to focus on future growth and maximise value for its employees. The business has also moved its day-to-day banking to Santander UK, which is additionally providing it with foreign exchange, trade finance services and connections to Santander UK’s extensive international partnerships to support its global operations.
Gemporia Partnership, headquartered in Redditch, Worcestershire, is among the UK’s largest businesses in the jewellery and home craft TV shopping sector. It sources, designs and sells affordable gemstone jewellery through Gemporia Ltd, which operates a television shopping channel, Gems TV, and ecommerce website. It also sells jewellery-making and sewing craft products through its Gemporia Craft business.
A significant proportion of Gemporia Partnership’s sales are through Gems TV, a jewellery shopping channel broadcasting 24 hours a day on Sky, Virgin Media, Freesat and Freeview as well as online. When Gems TV launched in 2004, it was the first channel of its kind in the UK to introduce live dynamic pricing, gradually decreasing prices to attract buyers. It is broadcast from the company’s TV station in Redditch and is presented by a team of accredited jewellery professionals. Customers place orders through the business’ website or by calling its customer services call centre based at its headquarters.
During the pandemic, many people have taken to watching TV and crafting to pass the time. In line with this trend, Gemporia Partnership’s profit increased by 42% in the year to March 2021. The business has retained a significant proportion of its new customers as pandemic restrictions have been lifted by the Government. The business has grown by attracting 55,000 new customers in the year to March, and re-launching its craft product range last year, which now accounts for 20% of its sales.
A new component of its craft business is its brand Sewing Street – launched in February 2020 – which is a TV and ecommerce website focused on how to make sewing-based crafts at home. It also has a TV and ecommerce brand, Jewellery Maker, dedicated to making jewellery at home using the company’s kits, gemstones, jewellery making tools and accessories.
Having secured this funding package with Santander UK, Gemporia Partnership, which employs about 650 staff across its brands, is now focused on organic growth, cross selling between its core business and new craft brand extensions, deploying social media campaigns to drive sales.
As part of Gemporia Partnership’s international operations, it has an Indian subsidiary, Coloured Rocks Trading, which is based in Jaipur and provides jewellery supply chain solution services including sourcing gemstones, designing, quality controlling and merchandising. A trade finance facility and foreign exchange services are part of the international support Santander UK is providing, along with connections to Santander UK’s extensive international partner bank network to facilitate local banking across the world.
Santander UK was supported by advisers from Grant Thornton and Addleshaw Goddard on the deal.
Colin Wagstaffe, managing director, Gemporia Partnership, said: “When we first met Santander UK, it became clear that its approach was thoroughly and thoughtfully developed with a solution that would help our business in its next phase of growth. We believe that, as well as new banking facilities, we have found in Santander UK a new partner to work with in the years to come.”
Nick Ashman, relationship director at Santander UK said: “Gemporia Partnership has an exciting future ahead, particularly with its recent expansion into the booming home-crafting market. We are delighted to support the management team to grow its core gemstone business and expand its new craft brands, as well as enhancing its global growth plans through the provision of a suite of international banking solutions.”