Since our story began on 25th May 1919, our mission has been to enrich lives. Not only by curating a beautiful range of jewellery and watches, but also through our dedication to charity work and in our investment and support of our colleagues.
We are extremely proud to be a family business and our heritage and family values are simply part of our ethos.
Our story begins
Our story began in 1919 when the three Adlestone brothers, Isaac, Harry and Maurice, moved to Belfast to pursue their dream of selling fine jewellery and gifts.
With no shop to sell from, they took to the streets of Belfast with no more than a suitcase full of silverware and, fuelled by boundless ambition and enthusiasm, they began building the foundations for the strong family business that Beaverbrooks has become today.
Our First store opened
Life in the years following the First World War was extremely difficult. The Great War had ushered in a period of uncertainty and change, ensuring that the return to peacetime conditions was not an easy transition.
Despite the hardship, the Adlestone brothers succeeded in building a small chain of jewellery shops. Our first store was opened in Belfast in the early 1920's and the three brothers quickly capitalised upon their success by expanding into the North of England with stores in Manchester, Liverpool, Huddersfield, Wakefield and Blackpool. At the same time a Head Office was established in Swan Street, Manchester.
Colleagues called for Armed Service
The Adlestone brothers now operated 14 stores across the north of England and Belfast, each of which operated under a different fascia name. In 1932 we opened our shop on King Street in Huddersfield which still remains in the same location today. Our range of products had expanded to include Rolex, and we sold our own brand of watch called Craftsman, which proved very popular.
In 1935, the Beaverbrooks name first appeared above our Oxford Street shop in Manchester. The name Beaverbrooks was chosen after Lord Beaverbrook, who was a well-known and admired public figure and politician, synonymous with honesty, integrity and patriotism.
In September 1939 WWII broke out, and in October the government announced that all men aged between 18 and 41 who were not working in ‘reserved occupations’ could be called to join the armed services.
As the war progressed, many of our colleagues were called up for service in the armed forces. This, combined with the shortage of gold and other metals whilst the hostilities lasted, meant that we were forced to close some of our stores. Many colleagues had second jobs, such as air raid wardens and we partnered with one of our suppliers to develop a munitions factory.
At the outbreak of war we had 14 shops. By the end of the war in 1945 only 6 remained.
A time of change
On the 7th of May 1942, Isaac Adlestone passed away.
During the war, all three of the brothers had spent a lot of time in St.Annes-on-Sea, and as both Harry and Maurice were in poor health they decided to relocate. In 1940, the Head Office was moved from Shudehill in Manchester to St.Annes, where our offices remain today.
In 1948, due to their poor health, Harry and Maurice invited their nephews Percy and Sydney Brown to join them in St.Annes to help run the family business. At this time Percy had a jewellers in Bradford called Mawby and Neal, whilst Sydney had a jewellery shop in Ashton-Under-Lyne called Sydney Brown. Both Percy and Sydney brought their stores into the Adlestone business when re-locating to St.Annes.
A family business
Our business continued to grow and Beaverbrooks developed the strong sense of family values that is still very much part of our company’s DNA today.
Sydney and Percy Brown continued to run the company and, in 1950 Gerald Adlestone, Isaac Adlestone’s son, joined the business. Gerald went on to become a director, a position which he still holds today.
Half a century of Beaverbrooks
Beaverbrooks celebrates its 50th anniversary.
In 1961, Michael Brown, Sydney Brown's son joined the company, followed shortly after by Andrew Brown in 1962, Percy Brown’s son.
Andrew Brown was just 16 years old when he joined the business. It was up to Andrew to find his niche and to discover something he was passionate about. His father, Percy Brown, was responsible for the planning of new shops and shopfits as well as the purchase of diamond rings, and Andrew found a natural affinity with these areas of the business. Michael was passionate about buying, and eventually went on to become the Buying Director along with Gerald Adlestone.
From the age of 16, Andrew was already very involved with local charities. However in 1967, Gerald, Percy and Sydney received an impassioned plea from a particular charity, and felt compelled to make a large donation. This opened the doors for our future involvement with several charities, and our commitment to both charity and our communities has now become part of our DNA.
In 1969 we proudly celebrated our 50th anniversary.
Keen to promote our stores, we commissioned a television advertising campaign. The ad proved very popular, and people used to pass our stores singing the Beaverbrooks jingle.
In the 1970’s our stores looked very different from today. We were one of the only jewellers to have private fitting rooms, and customers who wanted to try on engagement or wedding rings would sit in a waiting room until a buzzer sounded announcing that a fitting room was free. This arrangement enabled us to give a very personal service, particularly in our Glasgow store which, in one day, helped 108 couples choose engagement rings - a record which has never been matched.
In 1979 Mark Adlestone, Gerald’s son joined the company. He was 20 years old and started work in the stock-in department. Very quickly he was taken out on the road by the supervisors.
Heralding a new era of buying diamonds
Discovering his natural flair for leadership and his passion for working with people, in 1984 at the age of 25, Mark became a Director and spent a lot of time travelling around the stores, as well as building strong relationships with our suppliers.
During the early 1980’s, Andrew was approached by our main diamond ring supplier who offered to sell us a parcel of loose diamonds. Andrew realised the logic of this, seeing the potential of being able to control the quality of our diamonds, which would provide our customers with a better product. Stepping into a completely new and exciting world, Gerald and Andrew visited the diamond bourse (diamond market) in Antwerp, which was the starting point of fixing the quality of our Beaverbrooks diamonds at colour G clarity Si1, and which is still our standard today. Revolutionising the way diamonds were bought, we were the first multiple high street jewellers to buy loose diamonds, ensuring we had the highest quality to offer our customers.
A member of St.Annes Co-ordination of Charities since the 1960’s, Andrew continued to work tirelessly to support local charities. Inspired by a fellow committee member, Andrew enlisted the support of the Blackpool Evening Gazette and, in 1982, the Beaverbrooks Blackpool 10K Fun Run was born. Initially thought of as a crazy idea (after all who would want to pay to run 10K?), this highly anticipated and much enjoyed event has since raised millions of pounds for local charities.
Retail Jeweller of the year
In 1990, Mark and Andrew became joint Managing Directors of Beaverbrooks, and at the same time Michael Brown retired due to ill health.
In September 1990, we opened our store in Meadowhall, which was our first in an out-of-town shopping centre. Buoyed by our Jeweller of the Year award in 1992, followed by awards for Jeweller of the Year (again), Customer Service and Training Awards in 1993, we were amazed and proud to discover how well respected we were by the industry on a national level. With renewed confidence, we opened our store in the Gyle Centre in Edinburgh in 1993, and were then encouraged to move out of our heartland and expand into the South. We opened our first southern store in Croydon in 1994, followed by Milton Keynes and Lakeside in 1995, and Bluewater in 1998.
In 1994, Mark began instigating some of the changes which has made our Organisation the employee centric company that it still is today. This eventually resulted in the development of our mission statement, and ultimately evolved into "The Beaverbrooks Way", with its values and behaviours based around our core purpose of "Enriching Lives".
Following on the success of the Beaverbrooks Blackpool 10K, the Beaverbrooks Bike Ride was established in 1991 to raise funds for Trinity Hospice. Now in its 25th year, this popular event attracts over 700 entrants and has since raised over £400,000.
In 1995 Daniel Brown joined the company, and went on to become a director.
In 1998, Gerald and Mark Adlestone agreed to change the name of the company from Adlestones Ltd to Beaverbrooks Ltd to reflect the trading name, to avoid confusion and create clarity.
Royal honours for services to Community and Charity
A decade of celebrations, the new millennium began with the 50th Anniversary of our lifelong president, Gerald Adlestone, joining the family business.
We are extremely proud to have won many industry awards, including that of Multiple Jeweller of the Year, Financial Times Best Workplaces, The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For, The Sunday Times Lifetime Achievement Award and The Sunday Times Best for Leadership. Seen as fundamental to making Beaverbrooks a good company to work for, Mark sees our level of success in these awards as a barometer of how our team is feeling.
Staying true to our purpose of "Enriching Lives", the beginning of the new century saw our charitable work become more and more integrated into the essence of our organisation. Although we had always intuitively donated a portion of our profits to charity, we believed that more could be done. Confident that philanthropy can combine with the workplace, we decided to contribute 20% of our post-tax profits to organisations through the Beaverbrooks Charitable Trust on an annual basis.
A wonderful accolade to his commitment to charity, in 2008 Andrew Brown was awarded an MBE for his services to charity and community. Still actively involved in the organisation of the Beaverbrooks Blackpool 10K, which was then in its 26th year, when Prince Charles presented him with his MBE he said to Andrew, ‘you must be very tired after all those fun runs’!
In 2001, we launched our very first transactional website, and celebrated opening our 50th store in Oxford.
The first lady
In 2012, Andrew Brown celebrated 50 years’ service with Beaverbrooks.
Marking a significant change in the history of our company, Anna Blackburn was named CEO following a 15 year career (up to that point) with Beaverbrooks. This followed Daniel Brown (who had been Chief Executive for 20 months) leaving the business. Anna became not only the first lady, but also the first non-family member to hold that title.
In 2012, we entered into a partnership with Next and, marking a very exciting year for us, in 2013 we launched our new e-commerce website. Partnering with the world’s fastest-growing commerce platform provider, we have created a true omni-channel experience reflecting the quality, luxury and craftsmanship that is integral to our heritage and values.
Our Chairman Mark Adlestone was awarded with an OBE in 2015, in honour of his services to business and charity and in 2017, Mark was named the winner of Outstanding Contribution to the Jewellery Industry Award at the UK Jewellery awards.
In January 2018, Anna Blackburn joined the board of directors and became the Managing Director of Beaverbrooks, the first non-family MD in the history of the business. This was a reflection of her strong leadership, her fair and open style of management and the company’s strong performance since her appointment to CEO in 2013.
Today we have 71 UK stores and a team of over 900 people. Always keen to do more to support our communities, we have instigated a number of initiatives such as Match Funding and Workplace Giving which has contributed to the £13 million we have donated to charity since the year 2000. We have become an example to much larger organisations, and we are extremely proud to have them follow in our footsteps and contribute to our mission of "Enriching Lives".