Ritchies Jewellers is of historical significance in Bundaberg, dating back to 1889 when it opened for business as McLeod and Son. James (AJ) Ritchie, accepted the position of apprentice watchmaker to Mr McLeod Snr in 1906 as a 14 year old. When the McLeods retired from business in 1934, AJ acquired the business, which he owned until he retired and sold to Arthur Frost in 1976. Raymond Dunn, the current owner, arrived from South Africa and bought Ritchies in 1988.
Ray celebrated his 25 years as owner of Ritchies Jewellers at a surprise party on July 12. The party was attended by friends, special customers and people who have been involved with the business over the years.
Ray had owned and managed several businesses in South Africa - but never a jewellers. He has seen many changes in the past 25 years and has responded to the changing business climate -probably the reason why Ritchies Jewellers is still thriving in 2013.
As new owner he quickly realised the benefits of support from a buying group, and joined Nationwide Jewellers. He moved the business once, to extend the shop street frontage and window display space and again for more favourable rent.
When Ray bought Ritchies Jewellers he also acquired two young staff. Margaret and Louisa have been with Ritchies since they were girls of 15 and have acquired a wealth of knowledge, with a total of more than 50 years between them, making them invaluable to Ritchies and their clients.
The tradition of having an onsite watchmaker was restored in 2008 when Chris Moyle was employed. Chris' vast experience allows Ritchies to provide an exceptional local service, rather than send client watch and clock repairs to Brisbane.
Jeweller, Trent Cullum, joined the team in January 2012. Trent, an excellent craftsman recently placed second in the Jewellers Association of Australia Young Designers Award.
Technology has played an important part in the management of Ritchies. A website and Facebook page, as well as several online sites have all been developed in the past 12 months.
The very recent acquisition of a TIG micro pulse arc welder, the latest in computerised jewellery manufacturing equipment means jeweller Trent will now be able to repair many items previously unrepairable, such as war medals, which are of great sentimental value to families.
Ray went on his first buying trip to Antwerp, the diamond capital of the world, in 2012. Personally selecting diamonds, direct from the diamond houses ensures Ritchies can offer the best diamonds to their clients at reduced prices.
All these and many other factors, such as friendly helpful service, have contributed to the success and longevity of Ritchies Jewellers.
Congratulations to Ray and his team for 25 years of excellent service to the people of Bundaberg and the Wide Bay Area.