Peekays – finding, findings and more findings

Jenny Berich meets the woman running Australia's largest importer and wholesaler of findings.

Findings are not a glamorous or well known attraction in the jewellery industry but they are a basic bread and butter necessity for all manufacturing jewellers and retailers.

Therefore it is not surprising to discover that there is an Australian wholesaler that sells only findings.

Peekays, a Sydney-based company, sells thousands of different types of findings –bayonet clasps, jump rings, padlocks, bails, toggle sets, butterflies, kidney wires, roundels, pearl enhancers and ring mounts – in a wide range of metals and sizes.

Peekays has not always been a findings specialist.

Anita Kornmehl’s father, Dutch-born Paul Kornmehl set up Peekays’ Jewellery Centre in the 1980s, after earlier success in the local jewellery industry with IBS (an importer of Italian gold and sterling silver jewellery) and The Jewellery Centres (a supplier of jewellery shop fittings).

Peekays was initially an importer of Italian gold and silver chains and bracelets with a minor interest in European findings.

In 1992 Paul’s daughter Anita decided to help her father run his growing business.

A qualified teacher with experience working in her father’s first jewellery business, as well as selling tour packages to travel agents in the US, running a fishing lodge in New Zealand, and coordinating and managing exhibitions at the Sydney Convention Centre, Anita was eager to take on a new challenge.

At first her role with the company was limited to working in the office, but eventually the opportunity for her to move into a sales role arrived.

“I would basically pack my suitcase, get in the car and start driving to retail stores all over NSW,” she recalls.

“I loved it. I enjoyed meeting the clients and introducing them to our products. Finally meeting all those voices I’d heard over the phone. I loved working with our interstate agents – we had lots of fun, met many wonderful people and started to understand what the retail business was all about.”

Since then Anita’s role has grown to managing the business for over fifteen years now – albeit with the help of six fulltime staff plus agents and distributors.

“Without a great team behind me, nothing would have been possible. My sales manager, David, has worked in the business longer than I have and the office staff are an integral part of our growth and development. They are as important as my family who has supported me in all I’ve done.”

Paul, now in his late 80s, still comes into the office about once a week to oversee his other business interests. Her sister Yvonne, who worked with her for over ten years, has since changed direction, as has the business.

“In the beginning Peekays supplied both jewellery and findings, but I have gradually streamlined it to findings only,” she says.

“There have always been tremendous highs and lows in the jewellery side of our business,” she explains. “At Mother’s Day and Christmas we did brilliantly, but for the rest of the time sales were pretty ordinary so I thought it was illogical to hold a lot of stock for a year so you could sell it within two months.

“The options I could see for the jewellery side of the business was to invest heavily in it to make it work all year round or to pull out. I decided that I wasn’t prepared to invest the time (especially the time away from my daughter), money or effort needed to make jewellery sales a success. It wasn’t worth it to me.”

She says she has absolutely no regrets about the decision. Concentrating on findings proved to be a smart business move for the company as there were no other major findings specialists at that time.

“No one was really just doing findings; people didn’t see the value in them,” she explains, “but we realised that every jeweller needed them all year round in booms and in recessions.”

Initially all of Peekays’ findings were imported from Europe as Paul didn’t believe in ‘buying Australian’.

“He felt Australian findings were expensive and the quality – whilst improving – just wasn’t equal to the best that Europe had to offer.”

Anita however wanted to support the local market so gradually she started to purchase stock from local manufacturers.

Today about one third of the company’s products are locally manufactured.

“I’m Australian and I don’t want the local manufacturers to disappear, so I support the local industry,” says Anita, “but if I had to rely on solely Australian producers I couldn’t get the competitive edge with variety and pricing so I also buy elsewhere.

She says the competition in the findings market is much tougher than when she first began as “all jewellery wholesalers include at least some findings in their catalogues”, but she is nonetheless adamant that Peekays will continue to supply findings, findings and nothing but findings.

“My aim is to improve my range and service as required by my customers. “Our company motto is ‘making it easier’ and that is exactly what we’re trying to do.

“We try to make it as easy as possible for anyone in retail to organise the repair of someone’s jewellery item even if they don’t have that much knowledge about it,” she says.

To “make it easier” for jewellers and retailers the company has recently improved its catalogue, is in the process of upgrading its website, has simplified its order form, printed a full-colour findings reference chart, and produced storage refill kits (the kits feature individual compartments with a reference guide at top so that jewellers know what to order at a glance) with an easy order form.

“The retailers now realise that there is money to be made in repairs,” says Anita. “When the economy falls flat people buy less jewellery and concentrate on getting their existing watches or pieces repaired. These days, this can make or break a week for some retailers if their sales are slow.”

“Repairs are almost a recession-free business.”

Peekays Findings, 160 Castlereagh St, Sydney NSW 2000, ph: 1800 811 116

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