Protecting the Consumer and Servicing
the Trade with Independence and Integrity

[caption id="attachment_3123" align="alignleft" width="273"] Pictured Michael Allchin CEO and Assay Master, The Birmingham Assay Office with Winners of the Employer of the Year Award 2012 – H & T Pawnbrokers[/caption] The Birmingham Assay Office was pleased to support the recent National Pawnbrokers Association Annual Conference. As ever this was a lively affair with pawnbrokers generally   upbeat and positive as their businesses continue to prosper.  Current economic conditions have driven many to seek loans and pawnbrokers offer a reputable, established and properly regulated option which is attractive to many people.  The high price of precious metal continues to be a key driver too, giving people the opportunity to either sell or raise money against jewellery and watches. Conference speakers covered a wide range of subjects from forthcoming changes to the Consumer Credit Act to Michael Portillos’ personal and very entertaining view of the current economic and political climate. Practical technical advice came from watch experts from Birmingham’s Fellows Auctioneers who delivered an excellent presentation on the identification of fake and customised watches. This is extremely topical and the mass of helpful information they shared was much appreciated and very well received by the Conference. Michael Allchin, Chief Executive of The Birmingham Assay Office contributed his regular update on precious metal prices and hallmarking statistics, and his analysis of trends and the state of the market. An interesting discussion followed, focussing upon future changes to gold prices in particular.  Michael introduced the audience to fellow delegate and gold expert Philip Newman from Thomson Reuter GFMS who undertake global research to provide reliable analysis and robust predictions of what may happen next.  The business was over by mid afternoon, leaving delegates free to gather their strength for the formal Awards Dinner.   These awards are hotly contested and the shortlisted entrants are not short of vociferous support from their enthusiastic colleagues . When the final results were announced,  Store of the Year went to Mallards of Southend on Sea,  Deborah Howard of The Money Shop was declared Employee of the Year and James Constantinou was acknowledged as the industry’s “Rising Star”.  The “Kids Get Going” project run by H & T Pawnbrokers won Community Contribution and the Cheque Centre was awarded New Member of the Year. The Employer of the Year Award, sponsored by The Birmingham Assay Office was won by Harvey & Thomson, affectionately known as H & T.  Michael Allchin presented the Award after the judges had concluded that H & T’s welfare, training and development of its staff over the past year had been outstanding. However the biggest winner of the night was the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). The Charity auction, ably handled by the ever persuasive Stephen Whittaker of Fellows Auctioneers raised £28,000 for the charity.   A fantastic show of generosity from all the pawnbrokers present and with special thanks to Eamon Gaughan of The Bullion Room for his usual exuberant big heartedness.   NATIONAL PAWNBROKERS ASSOCIATION SPONSOR & AWARD WINNERS 2012    STORE OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNER    Mallard Pawnbrokers - Southend on Sea                 SPONSOR & CONTACT Bransom Retail Systems Ltd  Chris Garland COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTION AWARD WINNER    H&T Pawnbrokers - 'Kids Get Going'                         SPONSOR & CONTACT Retail Systems Ltd   Andrew Jacobs EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNER    Deborah Howard, The Money Shop                          SPONSOR & CONTACT Western Union Retail (GB) Ltd Phillip Brewer NEW MEMBER AWARD WINNER    Cheque Centre                                                           SPONSOR & CONTACT T.H March Ltd  Gerry Presland  RISING STAR AWARD WINNER    James Constantinou                                                  SPONSOR & CONTACT Gerrards Precious Metals Ltd Jason Collins  EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNER    H&T Pawnbrokers                                                      SPONSOR & CONTACT Birmingham Assay Office  Michael Allchin Delegates were able to see at first hand during the Conference exhibition, the acclaimed Gemstone Weight Estimator App launched by the AnchorCert Gemmological Laboratory last year which is proving invaluable for any pawnbroker or valuer on the go.   Also debuting at the Conference was The Birmingham Assay Office 2013 Training and Education programme, featuring for the first time, following several requests from customers, a Touch Acid Testing Course, which again is highly appropriate for those in the pawnbroking and retail trade.  For more information visit www.theassayoffice.co.uk or email gem@theassayoffice.co.uk

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