Published On: Sun, Jul 8th, 2018

Oldest family jewellers feels ‘the squeeze’ of high business rates | City & Business | Finance

Gatwards of Hitchin has been finding brides-to-be the perfect engagement ring and gentlemen elegant watches from the same shop in the Hertfordshire town since it was opened by James Gatwood in 1760. 

However manager Charlotte McCrossin, the eighth generation at the helm, says even such a well-established firm has felt the pinch of the rates system which online-only traders do not share. 

She said: “We are getting squeezed, it has been quite difficult for us, but we have stood the test of time through noticing what is going on in the high street and finding a way of standing out. 

“But if the Government want this high street issue to stop they need to help the retailers or it will become like a wasteland.” 

After working in financial services in the City of London for 16 years, Charlotte has also spent the past two years helping husband Paul run his chiropractic firm. 

“We wanted to expand into bigger premises, but the business rates make it impossible,” she said. 

Yet Charlotte, who has been running the jewellers with her aunt Anna Gatward since her mother Lisa retired in April, believes high street traders can still thrive if they offer experiences and service that cannot be found online. 

She said: “There is a lot of doom and gloom out there about the high street but it does not have to be that way. We have been through a couple of world wars and stood the test of time. 

“For us customer service and giving them an experience when they come into the shop have been important.” The mother-of-two added: “For an engagement we give them champagne and they can have a photoshoot. 

“We try and give them an experience that they would not get on the internet.”

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