Argento has embarked on a major £2.2m investment programme that will bring the leading jewellery retailer’s store count across the UK and Ireland to 60 and staff numbers to more than 500 in 2016.
Argento, which also operates a large network of Pandora stores, stocks designer jewellery brands including Pandora, Thomas Sabo, Nomination and Daisy, as well as its own ranges.
The Belfast-based company, which in 2014 invested more than £1m opening seven new stores in Northern Ireland and Scotland, has this year added six stores to its retail portfolio, including two new Argento stores in Holywood and Strabane, and four new stores which trade as Pandora in Newtownabbey, Glasgow, Newbury and Leicester.
In 2016, the fast-growing company plans to open further Pandora and Argento stores in Scotland, England and the Isle of Man. As part of its plans, it will also create Northern Ireland’s largest Pandora megastore by significantly extending and enhancing one of its top Belfast city centre bases.
The company said the new store openings will bring the total number of outlets under its ownership to 60 and will add at least 125 new jobs to its existing 475-strong permanent workforce across the UK and Ireland by the end of 2016. At key times, additional temporary staff can swell this number close to 800.
Pete Boyle, chief executive of Argento, said: “We’re an ambitious company and we’re 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.
Boyle said that as part of its ambitious investment strategy, it was continuing to roll out its new store design. This year, five key Argento stores, including those in Edinburgh, Newry, Omagh, Newtownabbey and Bangor, incorporate the traditional red ‘Belfast brick’ feature walls, contemporary wooden floors and striking yellow display cabinets.
Next year, the company plans to extend this to two more Argento stores, including Sligo and Newtownards, while its Pandora store in Peterborough is also earmarked for investment.
Based in Belfast but with operations across the UK and Ireland, Argento is owned and managed by founder Pete Boyle, who set up the business in 1997. Since then, the company has become a well-known brand, experiencing solid, rapid growth in all its key market areas, and particularly online – it already operates the fastest-growing online jewellery store in the UK and Ireland.
“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. 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.”