Jeweller Hugh Rice has set sail for the next phase of the company’s exciting growth by moving into new offices on Hull’s waterfront.
The family-run business had outgrown its previous premises in Hull city centre and has now become the latest investor in the thriving Fruit Market quarter.
The new offices are home to Hugh Rice’s Central Support Unit, which backs up the company’s retail operations. It accommodates the Directors’ suite, human resources, operations, finance, buying, stock control and marketing functions, with 28 staff based in the company’s new home.
Founded in 1965 by Hugh Rice, who opened the company’s first store in Hull’s George Street in 1971, the business has grown strongly, expanding from Hull and Beverley throughout Yorkshire and into the North East. The business now employs 350 people across 16 outlets, with most of its staff based in the stores.
Chairman Mike Rice said the company’s new home was an integral part of its growth strategy and five-year plan set out in 2015, with sights now firmly set on the next phase.
He said: “We’ve been fortunate enough to have enjoyed successes over the past four years and our plan has been a fantastic guide for us.
“We’ve just launched an updated strategy to take us through to 2022, which is more reflective of the current economic climate and will allow every department to head in the same direction and achieve our goals.
“Not only does the new office provide the space to grow into, which our previous premises lacked, it has also been designed to encourage us to work more effectively as one team, with communication between departments made much easier, helping us achieve our goals and grow the business in the future.
“We’re incredibly proud to invest in our home city of Hull. We’ve always been a city centre business and we were very keen to stay central, as opposed to moving to an out-of-town development.”
The business has worked closely with Wykeland Group, one of Yorkshire and the Humber’s leading commercial developers, on its new 6,000 sq ft premises. Hugh Rice bought the building from Wykeland and the two companies worked in partnership on its redevelopment.
The offices have been completely remodelled and refurbished, to create a bright, contemporary, inspirational and aspirational space, reflecting the quality of Hugh Rice’s retail environments.
The building includes learning and development facilities, which means Hugh Rice can hold all inductions and training in-house for the first time, and relaxed breakout areas.
A new-build “pod” has been added to the roof, providing spectacular views through floor to ceiling windows. It includes two meeting rooms, and terrace area, which can be used as an events space, to host customers, suppliers and also support Hull’s Smile Foundation charity, which Hugh Rice backs as a partner.
Hugh Rice’s retail operations include luxury Hugh Rice stores in Beverley and Harrogate, with its flagship outlet in Hull’s St Stephen’s Shopping Centre, including the largest Rolex Room in the UK outside London.
The business also operates three Luxe stores, in St Stephen’s, Beverley and Wakefield, and 10 Pandora outlets in locations from Harrogate to Hartlepool.
James Rice, Sales and Marketing Director at Hugh Rice, said: “We’re a Hull company and Hull is a maritime city, so a headquarters on the waterfront was the perfect choice for us.
“The location is beautiful, with incredible views and a vibrant local cultural scene, full of thriving independent businesses and restaurants.
“We ran out of space in our old office and we were limited in the work space we could provide for our colleagues.
“Our new environment is perfect to encourage effectiveness from our team and it provides a visitor experience which is much more akin to our stores.
“We’ve had a great response from all of our colleagues who have moved here. They’re all very eager to make the most of the shared opportunities the new offices provide.”
Hugh Rice’s move is the latest major investment in the Fruit Market waterside quarter, which has been transformed from a near-derelict area into a vibrant commercial, cultural and residential community, with Wykeland at the heart of the regeneration.
Wykeland also has its headquarters in a former bonded warehouse in the Fruit Market and is part of the Wykeland Beal partnership with housebuilder Beal Homes which is delivering the £80m transformation of the area, as part of the Fruit Market LLP joint venture with Hull City Council.
David Donkin, Wykeland Property Director, said: “We’ve been delighted to work with the Hugh Rice team on their relocation and to welcome another blue chip local business to the Fruit Market.
“The Hugh Rice management team were attracted to the Fruit Market in part by the appeal of becoming part of a thriving community. In turn, their presence will support the continuing growth of local, independent and creative businesses that are benefiting from the growing presence of leading employers in the area.”
Chameleon Business Interiors, which is also based on Hull’s waterfront, delivered the fit-out of the offices, to create a modern and sophisticated working environment, with stylish spaces for meetings, training sessions and events. No stock is kept on the premises.
Photos by Neil Holmes Photography