Longstanding communications provider is ‘worth its weight in gold’ to Fish Brothers family-owned jewellers

The Fish Brothers Group Ltd. is an independently owned, family run jewellery business with a history that stretches as far back as 1830. The current board is the 7th generation of the family to run the company, which has never before in its history been as diverse or as successful as it is today.

With 15 branches – covering the Charles Fish, Charles Fish Boutique and Charles Fish Pawnbrokers brands – Fish Brothers describes itself as aiming to be ‘a little bit quirky and a little bit hip’. But the core of the business remains the same as it was back in 1830 – a focus on customer service and attention to detail, a real sense of history and ‘family’, and a desire to work in long term partnership with suppliers that have a similar ethos.

Supporting Business Growth

The Network Communications Group (Netcomms) counts Fish Brothers as one of its first and longest standing clients. Initially Netcomms was responsible for installing standalone telephone systems into Fish Brothers’ head office in Walthamstow and a couple of branches, but over the years that relationship has developed into a true partnership between two like minded businesses.

As Fish Brothers Group expanded its operations, it became clear that a comprehensive overhaul of its communications infrastructure was required, as company director Peter Coleman outlines:

“The big change came about five years ago, around 2007, as the business was expanding rapidly. With multiple branches, call costs between sites were a real issue – and so Netcomms recommended an IP based solution which would enable all sites to operate as one network, enabling staff to simply dial an internal extension number to speak to other branches or head office. By going for the IP system we were able to significantly reduce the amount we were paying to BT for line rental. In fact, I think we managed to remove about 10 lines in total!”

Implementing The Right Technology

“Gathering sales and ordering information from our branches is a fundamental requirement of the business. On the retail side this takes place every 15 minutes and it’s essential that there is no congestion or hold up in getting this information back to the head office teams, hence having two broadband lines per branch for resilience and backup.

NCG Ltd managed the entire process – including working directly with BT Openreach, our CCTV company and our IT provider – to make sure that everything was set up and ready for us.”

Netcomms installed fully integrated Ericsson-LG iPECS IP phone servers across Fish Brothers’ entire branch network, as well as managing the installation of all the necessary connectivity for security systems, PDQ machines and IT systems, including rewalls. As part of the project they also liaised to take over lines from BT, numbering and the rationalisation of incoming lines, as well managing the implementation of two broadband lines per branch.

The new IP-based system not only saved Fish Brothers money by making all calls between branches free of charge, but also provided a range of other flexibility that typically comes with an IP solution. This includes the ability to run IP soft phones on laptops when required, to log into a desk phone from any handset when travelling between branches, and to set up new users and new branches quickly and easily, simply by plugging in an IP handset.

As part of the overall communications refresh, Netcomms also provided the management team with iPhones running on the O2 network, and now manages all handset issues, upgrades and add-ons for the business.

Network Communications Group now look after all their communications services – fixed line calls, lines, broadband, mobiles, system support and so on which are all detailed on one itemised bill, making Fish Brothers’ entire communications costs simple and straightforward to manage.

Planning For The Future

Over the last five years, Fish Brothers has continued to expand, calling on Netcomms as required to help the company’s communications infrastructure to keep pace. There are now 15 sites in total across the South East, supporting 25 staff at head office and a further 40+ across all of the different branches, including the flagship Charles Fish store at Canary Wharf.

More recently, Netcomms has also added an operator console at Head Office to support the new receptionist, as well as implementing an Out of Hours answering system and an automated attendant. They are also in the process of upgrading head office to Super Fast Fibre broadband form their own network provider, and the next project will be to install a new server for Charles Fish Pawnbrokers, including all additional connectivity requirements. Peter concludes:

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“One of nicest things about working with NCG Ltd is that their engineers are long-standing with the company. The branches get to know people and trust them, so don’t have to watch over them as they would with people they didn’t know – which is really helpful in our trade. The engineers also take personal responsibility for making sure we’re happy – even giving out their own mobile phone numbers so we can contact them at weekends. They understand that ours is a seven days a week business even if theirs isn’t.

I’d definitely recommend Network Communications Group to other companies, and have already done so. Full credit to Graham and the team for doing such an excellent job. There is great trust, the staff know them and value what they do – and this is vital to us, worth its weight in gold, and what makes working with Netcomms so attractive. We understand each other, we like the people and we like the familiarity of working with a long term partner.”

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