Sam Matthews has left a 13-year banking career for the challenges of helping his family run its jewellery empire. And it’s a leap the 35-year-old former Commonwealth Bank executive is glad to have made.
“There was a good opportunity to come into the business, working across our four stores and a good opportunity to work with my dad, brother and step mother,” he says of his appointment as business development manager of Matthews Jewellers.
“You are more involved in the decision making and have the ability to make change and do things quickly and be agile than you can in any big corporate. That’s a big drawcard, which is cool.”
Raised in Tamworth, Matthews moved to Newcastle to complete a bachelor of commerce majoring in marketing and finance before entering CBA’s graduate development program and working in Australia and Indonesia.
He returned to Newcastle in 2016 and worked in the bank’s Newcastle business banking service before deciding to join the jewellery business founded by his paternal grandfather Norman in Scone in 1957.
“It’s always been a part of our lives, always been the conversation around the dinner table,” he says of the business, which has stores in Westfield Kotara, Charlestown Square, Salamander Bay and Singleton.
Mr Matthews’ brother Adam is operations manager, his father Stephen buys stock and oversees strategy and his step-mother Donna works across the stores and oversees coaching and mentoring of staff.
Though the retail market is tough, Mr Matthews sees potential in the increasing number of bespoke commissions Matthews accepts in the fine jewellery, engagement and bridal markets.
He believes that the threat of online sales is outweighed by the desire of people to “see and touch” jewellery in store – something he says bigger competitors cannot offer.
“The bespoke experience we give is, you can come in and feel loose, hand-selected diamonds and custom make the ring with us. So you are creating something you will have for generations and that’s really cool. These are lifetime investments.”