Hello James, such a pleasure having you take part. Please tell me a little bit about yourself.
I think I’m a serial Entrepreneur. I’ve always had a variety of interests from property, cars and luxury goods. So to find a profession that combines my interests makes me feel extremely lucky. Having what I do for a living turned into a TV show gives Prestige Pawnbrokers such an incredible platform and definitely puts Pawn Broking back on the map and into the 21st century.
You are the self-made entrepreneur most people would love to be. How would you describe your journey to becoming the success you are today?
I am extremely fortunate; I have been relatively successful in times of economic downturns. It has definitely been a rollercoaster ride over the years but the highs have outweighed the lows.
I think it’s important to enjoy what you do and I have to say I love coming into work.
You were once into property before you created Prestige Pawnbrokers. What influenced your decision to change paths?
The desire to earn money and have some fun at the same time. The economic downturn was a major factor in the birth of prestige. I decided to set Prestige up after reading an article on asset lending in one of the Sunday papers.
I myself had funds available and was itching to get my teeth into something Most of my friends had the rugs pulled from under them by the banks and although they had assets they were cash poor. I knew people that were driving around in Ferraris and Bentleys pulling up to their million pound mansions but no longer could afford the petrol to run the cars or the electric to light the houses.
Sales is certainly a big part of running a business. What advice would you give to young startups gearing up to make their first sale?
Gear yourself up to purchase at the right level. If you have a relatively captive audience this will help. It’s all well and good making sales but to make a profit is the one thing that is essential if you want to succeed.
The old saying “Turnover is Vanity but profit is Sanity” springs to mind.
What was it like when you first started filming Posh Pawn in front of the camera?
I was a bag of nerves and if you re ran the early shows and compared them to more recent episodes then I think you would notice the difference. It took a while to get used to the film crew scrutinizing everything that we did but nowadays we don’t even notice them there….This sometimes has its down sides as you can imagine.
You must have seen thousands of items come through Prestige Pawnbrokers. What is the most intriguing item that comes to mind?
I get asked this question all the time and there is no one thing that springs to mind. Of course Aeroplanes, James Bond Hovercrafts and Submarines are a lot of fun but items associated with history or personal letters are intriguing although not always the most valuable items ever to have come in. Personal letters from Churchill, first Edition books and rare manuscripts are among items that we have been fascinated with.
Most young entrepreneurs look to you as a mentor. What is the best advice you would like to pass on to them?
I can only talk from experience and what has worked for me, but there are many ways to become successful in business and I would be fibbing if I was to suggest I knew all of them.
Personally I would aim for a market that was Niche and expanding, if you could couple those two factors in with times of austerity then you should be half way there. If you don’t get half way there then dust yourself down and try again. If you keep trying you are likely to succeed and if you don’t then give yourself a pat on the back for trying, the world would be a boring place without you.
What difficulties did you face when you decided to start Prestige Pawnbrokers?
How long have you got….I knew absolutely nothing about the pawn broking sector and learnt it from scratch. I knew that it was a little stale and stagnated and thought it could do with a spruce up. Hopefully what we have achieved with the TV programme has gone some way in changing the publics perception of the industry.
Do you remember the first item you pawned?
Yes.. It was a battered about watch and various items of scrap. We had visited the client at home and were just glad to get the deal in the bag. I couldn’t believe that someone had actually called us to do a deal. I think we lost about £400 pounds on that deal but it was a very good day and a valuable lesson was learnt.
We all love a bit of down time – what do you do to relax?
I know I’m meant to say Rock N Roll, crazy parties and copious amounts of belly laughs, sorry to disappoint. I try to switch off, time is so precious and I don’t get enough of it.
The odd weekend away, dining out and walks in the country are what keeps me sane at the moment.
What does 2016 mean for Prestige Pawnbrokers and Posh Pawn the TV show?
I am really excited to continue to grow Prestige Pawn Brokers as a brand. We opened our fourth shop earlier this year in Manchester which is currently doing very well, and hopefully I will look to expand further afield, however, I’m a perfectionist and like to be in control and across all aspects of the business and at the moment with four premises that is do-able.
As for the TV show, it really is money can’t buy in terms of advertising for Prestige and of course it’s a lot of fun. We are currently half-way through filming another 12 episodes so expect to see us back on your screens in the summer. We’ve had some wonderful characters and equally interesting items come in which will hopefully be screened so all in all things are going exceedingly well.