On 6th June 2019, Gatwards of Hitchin was announced the winner of Retail Family Business of the Year and Chairman, Anna Gatward, was also awarded a Lifetime Achievement award for her 60 years of running the jewellers.
When James Gatward first opened his doors for business in Hitchin in 1760 as a watch and clockmaker King George II was still on the throne. Over its long and colourful history, Gatwards has seen many changes. With 258 years in business, Gatwards is now the oldest family jewellers in the United Kingdom.
The Family Business of the Year Awards, organised by Family Business United, celebrate the vital contribution that family businesses of all sizes play in the UK economy. Innovation, investment, passion and pride are evident in family businesses across the UK confirming that the family business has much to celebrate.
With around 5 million family firms in the UK providing around 12 million jobs and generating a significant contribution to GDP, these national awards certainly help to put the family business sector on the map and give them the recognition they deserve.
Paul Andrews, Founder and Managing Director of Family Business United explained: “Since joining the family business out of need at the age of 16 following the death of her father, Anna has devoted her life to the family firm. Sixty years on and she is still active in the business, overseeing buying and guiding the next generation, a transition that will see her hand over the role of custodian of the family firm to her niece, Charlotte.”
Anna is delighted, but at the same time shocked at winning the award adding, “I am delighted to have won the lifetime achievement award and for Gatwards to have won the Retail award. We have a wonderful team and we could not have achieved this without them. I joined the business at 16 as the 7th generation to ensure our heritage kept going and I am thrilled that the 8th generation is now taking the business forward.”
The 8th generation of the Gatward family, Charlotte, has been involved in running the business for the past year. She is the daughter of Lisa Gatward (Anna’s sister) who also worked in the business for over 40 years.
Charlotte added: “We are all over the moon to have won these awards and believe they are a recognition of our commitment to delivering an outstanding customer experience and selling high quality products. In challenging times for retail, we feel we have stood the test of time because we endeavour to give all of our customers an experience when they come into our shop. Our aim is to “Put the Sparkle into buying jewellery” and we intend to continue that into the 9th generation and beyond.