Well, I think we can safely say Pickwick has often bucked the trend (to the positive) and this time, even we believe we’ve excelled ourselves. At a time when pretty much every multi-store pawnbroker in the country is looking hard at how they further reduce their pawnbroking estate, Pickwick has just increased it! The acquisition of our new store in Golders Green is exciting news and one that we believe will not be the last opportunity in the industry for acquisitions.
So how can we be expanding if the others are contracting? Well, it’s all to do with the ridiculous over-expansion that occurred during the gold buying boom. Pickwick is not looking at reducing the number of our stores because during the beneficial, but frankly crazy, gold-buying days, we retained a level head and built slowly, concentrating on ensuring that each site was a ‘laster’ – in other words, that it could ride the storm during the slower times, not just during the 100m gold-rush-dash. The new store is a great opportunity because it came at the right price, has been located on the same site for 25 years and by it’s charming and successful previous owners admission, became a little neglected as his other business ventures grew – therefore with a little TLC, it’s upside potential is vast.
So, we are no less than thrilled and delighted to add to Pickwick’s family and this is most importantly by bringing with us Manager Mein-Mein (pronounced Mee-Mee) and Jean, who have been with the Golders Green company for many years. We are further delighted to have newly recruited May Zin join us too – May is new to pawnbroking, but is learning fast and we are so happy to have the three on board and crucially, on side! It doesn’t pay to cross a Pickwick woman! Our existing staff have been warm and welcoming to the freshers, as one would expect – but forget the professional aspect, they have all expressed great delight that we’ll have an even bigger crowd at the Christmas party!!!!!
So, a few other things about the new Golders Green store acquisition cannot go unsaid. The first being a huge thanks from the Editor and the rest of the Board to the seller Udi Zaidman. Udi has been a business contact turned friend, for 25 years and I recall when he first opened the Golders Green store whilst I was involved with running the National Pawnbrokers Association. Udi built up a much-envied company of 12 stores, all fantastically run and well respected within the trade. Really before Pickwick was properly conceived, he slowly disposed of his stores by trade sales until just Golders Green remained. I have a sneaking suspicion that this was because he just couldn’t bear to part with ‘old faithful’, his first store, but you’ll have to ask him that.
Anyway, it was with much delight (and as I say, I’m certain a large dollop of nostalgia) that I received a call from him asking if an acquisition was something we might consider. “Certainly” I said and in essence, the deal, subject to the usual due diligences and excessive fees and kerfuffle from the lawyers, was done and dusted there and then. As anticipated, Udi conducted affairs straighter than a one-legged man hopping down a tightrope and behaved like a true gentleman in every aspect. What could have been a rather stressful acquisition, was an exciting pleasure and we are grateful to him for both the opportunity and for handing over such great staff and a shop that we know we can make a further success of.
Stop Press! Editors note – When I intimate there was no stress, I must confess that there was a couple of particular moments on the day of the deal that tested one’s metal a tad – the first was that at precisely 11am on the day of completion, during the most frenetic part of the operation (with lawyers too-ing and fro-ing on both sides, the fire safety inspector pacing up and down, our IT contractor pulling what’s left of his hair out, three new members of staff looking in a state of minor shock, Udi and his handy-man picking up and carrying off unwanted and obsolete four feet high 1980’s stacking computer’s and terminals, a representative from the security company and two burly shop fitters sizing the place up) – a minor and unrepeatable-if-you-wanted-it-to, disaster occurred. Whilst printing, for the umpteenth time, the “final-final-final” version of the engrossed acquisition document, my mobile phone, resting on the printer top, was gently shoved, like a two pence piece at one of the shove-slidey machines at a seaside amusement arcade, off the top of the printer and ‘SPLOSH!’ straight into my full cup of steaming hot coffee. I was on the landline at the time and it happened in slow motion. It can only be described as being the same statistical chance as the likelihood of throwing a hoop over the square box at a fairground game where you try to win a goldfish – it ‘ain’t never gonna happen – but of course, on this important day of days – it did!
The other moment of stress was in relation to completion funds not arriving on time, notwithstanding instructions reaching the necessary agency with four hours to spare – least said about that the better, but luckily Udi was as laid back, relaxed and frankly ‘cool’ as ever. “Don’t worry, it’ll reach me tomorrow”, he said in a slow, unflustered tone as our lawyer and his, were both about to have a coronary. Anyway, all’s well that ends well and we have Pickwick store number 7 up and running. Yippee!
I promised that I would continue this News Feed with unashamed abuse and analysis of our troop of staff and I meant what I said. Be afraid, be very afraid………..
……..Mike Woods! Now, Mike has been with us for fast approaching nine years and was our fourth employee after the three women at Walworth.
Huge sigh….. I’m not usually stuck for words, but i’m now wondering how the heck one describes someone like Mike (whilst trying to keep it clean). Ahhh! I’ve got is – he’s a GEEZER!!! Mike is the quintessential Chatham man (though he’ll try and claim, unfoundedly poshly, that he is actually from ‘Rochester’. Keep trying Mike, your duck like walk with your feet splayed out at 70 degrees and the ‘I Gillingham FC’ badge on your rucksack, fully gives you away). In addition, in his past, Mike has had a fair close relationship with a huge slab of hair-gel and he’s ever so partial to a pair of white trainers and a diamond (cough….CZ) earring. The final thing defining Mike is definitely his dance moves. Awful. Truly awful, but indeed so bad – they’re brilliant. If anyone has ever seen me nearly rolling around the floor at a Pickwick Christmas party, with my sides hurting from mirth, it’s been because of Mike shuffling down the dance floor with an expression that says “Oh yes, I really believe i’m moving like John Travaolta” when in fact, he’s moving with the coordination of a newly born Bambi on steroids and Red Bull.
Julie, Julie, Julie
Julie Roswell, now Julie King, a fantastic employee that we snatched from the clutches of Sainsbury’s. Their loss, our gain. They surely broke the mould when they made Julie. In fact, to be fair, not known for her gentle touch in and around dressing, or removing jewellery from the window display, it was most likely to be Julie that broke it herself! Ju is cuddly and lovely, adored by all and still, after 6 years of employment with us, doesn’t realise that she’s a truly brilliant pawnbroker. She has a few loves in her life that I’ve discovered over the years of working with her – family, a good Chinese takeaway, a nice hot sunny holiday and of course without doubt her dogs. And she even seems to quite like her husband Phil, but it’s clear that the dogs just beat him past the winning post!
Ju has a fantastic way of always thinking she’s mucked up when she hasn’t. The sheer panic on her usually smiling face when she think she’s done wrong is legendary and we all rush to see her now infamous self-squeezing of the head with both hands clutching each ear as she squeezes her head so tightly she looked likes a child’s play-doh model! And when it comes to food and drink, she has on more than one occasion been known to start her diet on a Monday and before the day’s out see the evening in the local Weatherspoons for chicken and ribs and was once spotted post Christmas party leaning over the garden bin before stumbling off to bed a little wobbly!!!
Pickwick continues to grow and we are all very proud of both the company and our industry. The popularity of TV programmes such as Channel 4’s ‘Posh Pawn’ are raising the profile of the business and increasing awareness and footfall all of the time. Next time the quarterly News Feed is published it will be early January 2015, so apologies that we take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy Christmas and New Year! Here’s looking forward to some Christmas retail!