Michael Hill is many things - a jeweller, an entrepreneur and definitely a doer and not just a talker. He is the founder of one of New Zealand’s most successful retail companies. With his highly personal style of television advertising and his successful Australasian chain of distinctive jewellery stores, Michael Hill has become a well-known face and a legend in the world of retailing. In 1979 the first Michael Hill Jeweller store was established. The concept was so innovative that it revolutionised jewellery retailing in New Zealand. Within eight years, there were 10 outlets spread throughout the country.
During 1987, the same year that he won the Air New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Michael saw the potential to launch his chain of jewellery stores into Australia and listed Michael Hill International on the New Zealand Stock Exchange in July of 1987. The company rapidly expanded into Australia, and became the number one retail earner per square foot of retail space in all of its centres. In December 1993 Michael Hill was voted ‘Top Australian Jeweller’.
Michael believes a significant part of the company’s success comes from their philosophy of controlled profitable growth. “By sticking to the basics, the whole organisation is concentrating on the same goal – everyone is aiming at the bull’s –eye!” He tells how he discovered the drive and motivation that got him to where he is today. Pulling no punches, he shares many of his secrets – personal motivation, strategies for personal growth, philosophy behind his retailing success, and much more. The man who once dreamed of being a concert violinist has used his achievements in business to help establish the enormously successful Michael Hill International Violin Competition for young violinists, held in New Zealand every two years.
In June 2009 Michael Hill launched his new book "Toughen Up". Toughen Up encapsulates the ingredients of Michael Hill's philosophy and provides fascinating anecdotes from his personal and business experiences, alongside lessons from NZ's top entrepreneur on surviving tough times. Last year, Michael Hill Jeweller entered the US market, purchasing 17 Whitehall Jeweler stores following their bankruptcy. He says business there is extremely tough at the moment. Around 2,400 jewellery retailers have gone out of business in the US since November 2008 but this has served as an "in" for Michael Hill. He says the recession has helped open up opportunities such as getting get prime sites in retail shopping centres that would not have been available before. "It's levelling the playing field and opening up opportunities for us.
"What I learnt going to Monte Carlo and the Entrepreneur World Ceremony was that that world is changing all the while and one needs to change with and be willing to make those changes quite significantly and quite quickly if you have to," he says. He says when the economy starts to improve, and with the stores' new look launched in August, the company will be "ready to fly". Hill says perfume will also be introduced into stores, describing the move as a natural progression unlike the company's earlier unsuccessful foray, Michael Hill Shoes. Hill describes the scent as "sensational" and very "New Zealand", and will be available next year. Despite the recession, Hill says the company remains on track for its goal of 1,000 stores by 2022.
Michael has also built a world class golf course on his property in Queenstown and has hosted the New Zealand Open Golf Championship. He is an inspirational, dynamic thinker and public speaker with a powerful fighting philosophy for success in your personal life or in your business.
• All Aspects of Retailing
• The Michael Hill Story
• Staff Selection and Training