Navigating the Crisis | Dan Jago on leading Purdey through COVID-19
The Chairman and CEO of Purdey, Dan Jago, is the latest luxury leader to discuss the impact of the lockdown on the 200 year old business – one built on personal service, craftsmanship and sustainability.
HOW ARE YOU NAVIGATING PURDEY THROUGH THE CURRENT COVID-19 CRISIS?
My priority has obviously been for the health and safety of our staff and our customers and this will continue to be the case as long as this virus lasts. Clearly, these are ‘uncharted waters’ for us all and the strategic decisions we take now will determine the long-term future of our historic brand. I am delighted that we are open again at the shop in South Audley Street, our factory in west London and the Royal Berkshire shooting ground but we will have to keep a close eye on social and legislative changes as they come.
WHAT HAS THE SITUATION TAUGHT YOU ABOUT LEADERSHIP?
In complex times, you have to do just that – lead. Everyone looks to the Chief Executive to consult, make good decisions and most importantly communicate them effectively. This situation has reaffirmed my view that active communication essential, not only within the business but in what, and how, we share with our customers and partners. It has been really important during this time for me to reinforce the brand’s vision, to empower the respective teams within the Purdey business and help keep them focused. My daily team meetings via Zoom and weekly ‘Town Hall’ with the whole business have led to greater immediacy and more creativity and ultimately this should give our customers an improved experience with us.
I have also had time to reflect upon our history at Purdey, which is steeped in conservation and sustainability, something that I believe is more important to our customers today than ever before. These unprecedented times have given us all the opportunity to see what we can do to improve our own ‘footprint’ on society and make it better for future generations to come. Just one of the many ways we as a company seek to take the lead on this is via the Purdey Awards for Game and Conservation, which seek to promote a wider appreciation of the outstanding game and habitat conservation work that is carried out by Estates and landowners throughout the United Kingdom.
AND WHAT HAS IT TAUGHT YOU ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?
How resilient people really are. There is real truth in the idea that people are at their best in a crisis. Colleagues have been able to adapt quickly to the changing requirements of our customers, not only during this period but at other times as well; I am proud that we have not deviated from our values and our uncompromising approach to what we do. We continue to develop the craftsmanship that is behind every product we sell from our guns and brilliant clothing to the luxury leather luggage collections, the story of which dates back to the World War Two.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE POTENTIAL LONG-LASTING CHANGES TO PURDEY AS A RETAIL BUSINESS?
In simple terms, blending the virtual with the real. We are ready for the ‘new norm’ – where it is vital that we make sure our luxury retail experience translates perfectly to online. As well as opening our doors again at Audley House, our boutique in Mayfair, we have opened its ‘virtual doors’ via a 360 degree interactive tour which allows people to browse online our full collections of guns, clothing, gifts, leather luggage and home accessories, whilst at the same time allowing them to experience our unique history.
We have to embrace digital and e-commerce and ensure our professional but informal style and behaviours flow seamlessly between the two.
HOW ARE YOU, ON A PERSONAL LEVEL, DEALING WITH LOCKDOWN?
I miss people ‘in real life’ and am known an energetic person so Zoom isn’t enough. That said, I’ve had lockdown with my two daughters who cook and bake brilliantly, I’ve taken more exercise than in the past forty years and I’ve been working through the far reaches of my cellar. So not all bad, but I can’t wait to be back with my amazing teams.