Landmark Naas business Statham Jewellers has reached the end of an era.
Its eponymous owner Hugh Statham is standing aside because he wants to retire after the better part of a lifetime in the jewellery trade.
“I just became 65 too quickly,” said Hugh, who first opened the store on the opposite side of South Main Street, beside the then Gorry’s pharmacy.
The move to the existing premises came in 1995 when he bought the former Coughlan’s drapery outlet before embarking on a major renovation project around the time of the economic collapse in 2008.
However the business was to continue to prosper and it was extended as part of the adjacent Gogarty’s hardware was bought.
This resulted in a second renovation job job, which was concluded in 2012. The outcome was one of the most atmospheric and stylish retail buildings anywhere in County Kildare.
Hugh’s family is steeped in the jewellery trade.
His great grandfather opened a shop on Kilkenny city’s High Street in 1871 - and it’s still there today being run by his cousin.
And nieces and nephews have businesses in the southeast of the country.
Before opening his own business Hugh worked in jewellery repair for several jewellers and prior to that he lived for a time in South Africa.
“I wanted to have a retail outlet and I looked at Wexford town as well before opting for Naas because I felt it had growth potential. I thought it might be more prosperous and it is close to Dublin.”
Hugh added: “The people of the Naas area really embraced me and they have been so faithful and good to us from the start really. They’ve been wonderful and we know our customers so well.”
It's a source of some pride to him that the enterprise has become part of the community through engagement, wedding and anniversary celebrations. Stock is sourced from all over Ireland as well as trade shows at European venues, which Hugh attends in the search for attractive pieces.
It has been extremely fulfilling starting from where we did to the shop we have now. It’s a great business and it’s not easy to retire,” he said, paying tribute to colleagues Gabriella, Susan, Nicola, Chantal, Martin and Charlie.
“This wouldn't have been possible without them. Without them we’d have nothing, they’re an integral part of the business. But sometimes businesses need younger people. I could stay on, but I don’t want to be here when I’m nearly 70.”
He said: “There comes a time when you need to step back and that time is now.”
Hugh hasn’t had a Christmas Eve off since he was 17.
The business will be sold and already there's quite a bit of interest, which isn’t a surprise given that it is well established and has a pretty impressive outside and inside.
One he goes Hugh intends to take six months off to do nothing much.
After that he hopes to work two days a week, not necessarily in the jewellery business because he’d like to do some voluntary work.
And there’ll be plenty of gardening in his future.
“Anyone who knows me, knows I love my garden and I’ll be giving it plenty of attention now.”
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