Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Pragnell is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Stratford-upon-Avon showroom
Pragnell is a small, family jeweller and one of the UK’s
finest independent purveyors of high-quality jewellery and
watches. Its clients include British and European royalty,
Middle Eastern sheikhs and internationally renowned business
leaders, musicians and artists. Below, Chairman Charlie Pragnell
explains more.
We manufacture our own jewellery, ranging from small gifts for a few hundred
pounds to seven-figure, investment-grade pieces. We offer a fine selection of antique
and period jewellery and Swiss watches, including Rolex and Patek Philippe. There
are very few companies that equal the diversity and depth of our watch and jewellery
offering. In a family-owned business there is an innate commitment toquality.
My grandfather, George Pragnell, trained as a gemmologist at Biggs of Maidenhead
(where he looked after Queen Mary) and then took over a jewellery shop in a listed
Tudor cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1954, and founded George Pragnell Ltd.
I am the third generation to run this business, taking the reins from my father,
Jeremy, in 2010. My mother’s family, Blott, founded jewellery manufacturer Waters
& Blott in 1850, so in this sense we are a sixth-generation jeweller.
Art, not fashion
True jewellery embodies unique emotions and memories. It is art, not fashion.
Our finest creations are one-of-a-kind jewels, designed and crafted around
extraordinary, unique gemstones, each one selected by a family member. Every
masterpiece is individually numbered and finished with the Pragnell Seal, which
guarantees that it is an original design and was handmade in Great Britain.
»Chairman & CEO:
Charlie Pragnell
»George Pragnell Ltd
established in 1954
»Waters & Blott Ltd established
in 1850
»Based in Stratford-upon-Avon
»Services: Sourcing, servicing
and valuation of fine jewellery
and watches
»No. of employees: 106
»Presented with the Queen’s
Award for Enterprise
Highlighting best practice
Handmade in Great Britain
We have our own jewellery workshop
in Leicestershire, with four in-house
goldsmiths and two designers. We work
with a handful of specialist workshops in
Europe, but the majority of our jewellery
is made entirely in our British workshops,
so that we have complete control over
the process and quality. Better results
are achieved when a designer can work
alongside a goldsmith and evolve the
piece while it is being made.
We embrace the newest technology,
which enhances a depth of experience
in traditional craftsmanship.
Our knowledge is your
My grandfather’s first advertising
slogan was “our knowledge is your
safeguard”, and that still rings true.
We have always built expertise within
the company and have 12 qualified
gemmologists, 19 high-complication
watch specialists, five antique jewellery
specialists and a highly-qualified
watch-servicing workshop.
Many of our specialists have been with
the company for 30 or 40 years.
Every new recruit knows exactly what
their first two years will look like
and how they will be trained. Each
employee undergoes training every
year, whatever their area of expertise.
Our philosophy allows people to do
what they do well more often, so that
they enjoy their job, do it better and are
more productive. We have a very high
employee retention rate and I believe
our training scheme is a big part of that.
We recruit for diversity in terms of
age, gender, faith and background,
because this reflects the diversity of
our customers. There are 18 different
languages spoken fluently throughout
our staff. Some employees have been
with the business for longer than I have
been alive, and they tell me that one of
the reasons they’ve stayed is that we
encourage evolution, not revolution.
Building an international brand
Our growth has been driven by
reinvesting profits into our stock, our
team and our showrooms. We opened
a store on Mount Street, Mayfair, in
November 2017, which has started well,
largely as a result of providing a highly-
personal style of customer service..
Our headquarters in Stratford-upon-Avon
is still our largest location and attracts
visitors from around the world.
In 1991, my father expanded my
grandparents’ original shop at number
five Wood Street into number six, and
in 2019 we extended into number
seven, doubling the size of the store.
The next step is digital expansion
and last summer we launched our
ecommerce platform.The world
is making a seismic step in digital
innovation, and we see our website
as our fourth location and one with
international potential.
A level playing field please
Developing a strong, long-term business
both domestically and internationally
requires a fair playing field at home.
Of particular concern is the increasing
value of undeclared goods brought
back into the UK, which have been
purchased by departing UK domiciled
customers in airport duty-free shops.
Handmade in Great
Our finest
creations are
designed and
each one
selected by a
This leads to a significant loss of VAT
revenue for the Treasury and results
in unfair competition for UK retailers.
The government and HMRC must take
action to ensure that this is corrected.
Equally, many US digital giants benefit
from extensive use of UK infrastructure,
which was funded by hardworking
UK citizens and businesses. These
foreign companies contribute negligible
amounts to the UK Treasury, export
vast profits and simultaneously put
longstanding UK companies, which have
made significant tax contributions, out
of business. This omission is increasingly
creating an unfair competitive
advantage and an imbalance between
social contribution and benefit.
However, the more imminent threat
facing retail and the wider economy is
the withdrawal of VAT-free sales for
non-EU visitors to the UK, effective from
January. This will disadvantage UK
retailers immediately and considerably.
Other European destinations will still
offer VAT refunds to these customers.
Many UK companies owned by
international brands will simply stop
trading in the UK, as non-EU customers
will buy from their shops in other
European destinations. This will mean
that large parts of premium London
and other premium UK towns with
high visitor numbers will have many
empty shops. As the existing retail crisis
shows, empty shops lead to a decline
in commercial property value and a loss
of the ‘halo’ effect - fewer high-quality
hotels, restaurants and entertainment
venues. In turn, this affects
employment, residential property
prices and economic wealth. A free
market economy, national or local, is a
highly-complex and fragile ecosystem
which evolves naturally.
With our exit from the EU, the
necessary support measures are
needed to ensure all UK businesses
remain competitive both domestically
and internationally, which in turn
will profit and benefit our domestic
economy as a whole.
Traceability is becoming more important
in the jewellery industry, so an increasing
proportion of our stones are traceable to
specific mines. Botswana is an example
where profits from the diamond
industry have hugely benefited the local
population. In 2020 we partnered with
Sentebale, the charity co-founded by
Prince Harry. We auctioned a one-of-a-
kind Botswanan diamond ring, with all
proceeds benefiting HIV-positive people
in Botswana and Lesotho, and continue
to work with them closely.
In 1990 my father introduced the Pragnell
Shakespeare Birthday Award, which
celebrates those who have spent their
life furthering the understanding and
awareness of Shakespeare’s work. We
support the Royal Shakespeare Company,
the Royal Shakespeare Trust and the
Shakespeare Hospice, and play a key
role in the organisation of Shakespeare’s
birthday celebrations. We also support
the Oxford Children’s Hospital, the Royal
British Legion, the British Red Cross,
Marie Curie, Macmillan and JDRF. In
2017 Pragnell became a patron of the
Prince’s Trust, actively supporting its
superb apprenticeship programme.
Our persistent quest for perfection
bears the fruit which allows us to
choose the nature of our contribution
and direction. There are many family
companies like ours that function this
way and despite the current challenges,
I am convinced that our great nation
remains well equipped to flourish.
In 2017
became a
patron of the
Prince’s Trust,
supporting its
Building an international
brand: our finest creations

This article was sponsored by Pragnell. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy