My Life’s Work | Michael Wainwright, Managing Director, Boodles
In this weekly series, we meet a Walpole member chief executive to discover what makes them tick, how they define success, and what keeps them awake at night. This week, ahead of The Boodles Tennis Challenge, we meet Boodles Managing Director, Michael Wainwright, who discusses why he hopes family values will always be at the heart of the company.
Michael Wainwright, Managing Director of Boodles, was educated at Shrewsbury School and Exeter University. He graduated in Economics and qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG in 1983. Michael joined Boodles in 1984 and now runs the company with his brother, Nicholas and nephews Jody Wainwright and James Amos. He is the fifth generation of the Wainwright family to own the business, which was established in Liverpool in 1798. Michael is a Fundraising Trustee for Rainbow Trust, a children’s charity that provides emotional and practical support to families who have a child with a life-threatening or terminal illness. He has also just finished his term as Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths Company. Michael is married to Annie and they have twins, Honour and Geordie, who are both at university. His hobbies include golf, shooting, wine, national hunt horse racing, vegetable gardening and Liverpool Football club!
What does British luxury mean to you?
To me the most important factors of British luxury are heritage (Boodles was founded in 1798), an extremely high quality product and a bit of British eccentricity.
What’s your vision (for the company)?
For Boodles to be the ultimate British destination for diamond set contemporary jewellery. To increase the number of high value sales we make (£200, 000 plus) – something we are working hard at but it doesn’t happen easily. To remain a private family owned business. My father could have sold the business in the 70s or 80s but never did, enabling Nicholas (my brother) and I to have a wonderfully fulfilling and enjoyable business life. I would love the same for my 21 year old twins, Geordie and Honour.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Opening our first shop in London in 1987. Until then we were a company with shops in Liverpool, Chester and Manchester. To be honest we made no money in London for years but now we have five shops in the capital in key locations.
How do you define success?
Being a chartered accountant; what the bottom line says at the end of the year! But also the happiness of myself and our staff. I’d rather have a happy staff and make a little less money, actually.
What’s your greatest extravagance?
Two national hunt race horses I have just bought with three friends. I love the winter sport.
What do you like most about your job?
Seeing people we recruit really develop into becoming outstanding employees and knowing that your business is in safe and loyal hands.
The considerable hassle and expense caused by security issues.
What has been your greatest regret?
My father dying relatively young and not being around to see Boodles now.
What’s the smartest business idea you have ever had?
To understand at a fairly early stage in my careers at Boodles, how important the concept of luxury is and to that extent taking the advice of Julian Walford of Walford Wilkie from 1996-2012 on how to grow our brand.
What was your big break?
Meeting my wife Annie, corny but true.
What is your guiding principle?
Integrity must prevail at all cost.
Which living person do you most admire?
Laurence Graff – for creating an extraordinary business and anticipating how much fancy coloured diamonds would increase in value, about 30 years before anybody else.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Currently, my favourites are ‘ahead of and behind the curve.’
What keeps you awake at night?
Nothing in particular, but I’m not a good sleeper.
What do you most value in your friends?
The fact that I have known most of my best ones for over 40 years.
In a parallel life, what would you be doing?
Stockbroker or professional golfer.
What piece of advice would you give someone entering the luxury industry now?
Creation of a brand and customer service is as important as the product itself.
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