For Hannoushes, Every Day A Jewel

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Hannoush Jewelers could create a new holiday - Family Day - and then design the baubles that would make perfect gifts for the occasion. Actually, every day is family day at the West Springfield based jewelry retail chain and manufacturer. The company is operated by eight Hannoush brothers, whose business has grown from one store in 1980 to 53 company-owned and 20 franchise outlets today.

Each of the brothers has his own specialty. Elias, the eldest, operates two stores in Albany, NY., area. Joseph works with stores in the field. Anthony oversees new construction and store remolding. Norman is treasurer. Peter handles diamond importing. George handles the watch department and is involved in field operations. Camile is in charge of merchandising and franchising. Nabil is the gold buyer and handles human relations.

"Our mother (Souad) handles all of us," laughed Camile Hannoush. "Sundays we're at my mother's. We all live in the same area. We spend a lot of time together." The family emigrated in 1971 from Lebanon to Lawrence, where an aunt lived. They moved to the Springfield area in the mid-1970s and opened their first store - a location in Fairfield Mall that no longer exists - in Chicopee in 1980. The brother's father, Abdullah Hannoush, who died in 1985, was a carpenter who built the display cases for the first four Hannoush stores.

Camile Hannoush said the company makes about 95 percent of the jewelry it sells. It manufacturers most items in Montreal, but it repairs and makes custom items at its Capital Drive facility in West Springfield. The company employs about 600 people in all phases of its operations. Franchises employ another 100 or so.

Most Hannoush stores are in the Northeast, but it acquired a chain of stores in Kansas, Missouri and Ohio, and it's looking to expand further in Florida.

"Right now we're concentrating on growth in the Northeast and we're looking at Florida," Camile Hannoush said. "We purchased a company about four years ago in the Midwest. We're not looking to aggressively grow there. We're looking at the southern part of the country. We have two stores in Florida and we hope to add more." Many of the Hannoush stores are in malls, but as the company's name recognition grows, it is building more freestanding stores.

We're in every mall in Western Mass. - Holyoke, Eastfield Mall, Tower Square, Enfield, Hampshire Mall, Berkshire Mall," Camile Hannoush said.

"We're opening more freestanding stores on busy strips in New England. We have the name recognition now, so people will stop and go in. At one time we couldn't do that. We're looking at more of that kind of opening." It also has an online presence at www.Hannoush-Jewelers.com. He said the company doesn't single out any one market. "We try to cater to everyone. We don't look for anyone in particular. The product that we carry is better-quality product, so it focuses more on people who want to spend a little bit more and get a better product." He said the competition is "everyone who sells jewelry, everyone who sells fur coats, or cars or vacations." The company has always been profitable, but business does get more challenging in tough economic times, Camile Hannoush said.

"It's always been a challenge, It gets more and more challenging as you get online shopping and more stores opening up, but we've been fortunate that business has been steady and always growing." Norman Hannoush added: "When the economy gets tough, the customer gets careful about what he or she wants to spend. So they want to go after quality at the best price. As the economy gets tougher you start shopping more, become more discriminating. That's been part of our success." Hannoush manufactures the gamut of jewelry products that it sells, although it buys watches, gold chains and earrings from outside suppliers.

"Diamond jewelry, stone jewelry, gold jewelry. Customized jewelry. You name it, we'll make it," Camile Hannoush said. We'll custom make anything for anyone. There aren't many jewelry chains out there that will work with custom work. That's one of our niches." It settled on Montreal as a manufacturing location because of the pool of skilled labor in that Canadian city, so it was easier to fid skilled jewelry craftsmen there than in Western Massachusetts. Joseph Hannoush also knew the area because in-laws and other relatives lived in Montreal. Joseph and Elias Hannoush were apprentice jewelry makers in Lebanon, which is how they got the business here. They started doing jewelry repair in Lawrence and later did repairs for Kay Jewelers, who wanted them to be near a Kay store in Western Massachusetts.

They settled on Springfield because of St. Anthony's Maronite church here. The family is active in the church. The Hannoushes did repairs for Kay out of Eastfield Mall for several years before going into the retail and manufacturing business for themselves.

"We worked for Kay, doing their restyling events up and down the East Coast," Camile Hannoush said. "After we opened in Chicopee we continued doing work for Kay. Once we opened in Holyoke and Westfarms we left Kay." The Hannoush brothers keep an open mind about expansion. "We've always been happy with what we've had, but we try to take advantages of opportunities when they come," Camile Hannoush said.

"do we want to grow? Yes, but if we don't have opportunities in front of us we don't have to grow. We don' have a planned agenda where we have to grow by 20 stores or 30 stores or 50 stores. Tomorrow we may have an offer on the table where we can buy somebody with 100 or 500 stores. Or we may not do another store for 10 years." He said the next generation, which numbers 33, is slowly coming into the business.

"We have five or six who work full time now, the rest will work part time," Camile Hannoush said. "Then by the time they graduate from school and college, they'll know if it's something they want to do. It seems that they mostly like it. They work everywhere, in the stores, in the office. We try to teach them every aspect of the business so we can see what their niche is, what they're going to be good at."

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Hannoush Jewelers
1655 Boston Road Unit B7
Springfield, MA

Phone: (413)846-4640
Fax: (413)788-7588

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