This year Chard celebrates its Golden Anniversary. The last fifty years have seen growth from a locally based one man band into one of the largest coin and bullion dealers outside of the USA.
Lawrence Chard, chairman, is a numismatist who has been dealing in coins almost all his life; his enthusiasm and knowledge of the industry together with a high standard of service and product ensures that customers travel or order from far and wide to buy and sell coins.
The Chard family were well known in Blackpool and Lawrence’s grandma owned an amusement arcade on Blackpool’s Golden Mile.
Lawrence used to earn his pocket money by helping out at the arcade where one of his jobs was to count the coins; a coin dealer used to ask for key dates and Lawrence spotted an opportunity and developed a passion for coins. The rest is history.
In 1964 he began trading as R & L Coins with his cousin Robert in Dale Street; 50 years later, the business has grown from a sleepy provincial coin business, to one with nearly £20m turnover.
Chard are probably the Fylde’s biggest secret, they deal in coins, but also sell gold and silver bullion, gift packs, foreign currency and buy scrap gold along with other precious metals and jewellery.
Lawrence has seen many ups and downs in the industry, there have been large and small companies that have disappeared into obscurity while he has continued to plough investment back into Chard.
In June 2013 Lawrence and wife Jane purchased a building for their new premises in Harrowside just around the corner from their Lytham Road showroom; it started out life in 1940 as a Co-op.
After standing empty it had become a vandalised, derelict wreck - Lawrence saw the beauty and potential and after a lot of work, and money - a million dollar investment - Chard have finally converted it to a modern efficient building while retaining many of the original art deco architectural features, including refurbishing the stained glass windows.
As Chard’s business has expanded, they have taken on more staff – in addition to the administration staff, they now have a marketing team, an in-house IT team and a professional photographer.
As one of Britain’s biggest importers of Perth Mint products, both Lawrence and Jane were recently invited to The Perth Mint 2015 Bullion Launch and Gala Dinner in Frankfurt, Germany.
Collector coins form a significant part of Chard’s business; they buy and sell coins all day, every day and are happy to deal in almost any type or quality of coin.
A large amount of coins which they buy are not of any significant value but they are always willing to offer a very fair price when they are see better quality or rarer coins.
A UK boom in coin collecting started in 1965 when decimalisation was announced, since then there has been a huge leap in the number of coin collectors, probably to over 3 million in Britain today.
Many coin collectors are interested in forming a collection of a specific type of coin from a particular era and Chard have a growing number who are becoming as interested in the numismatic elements of the coins as they are.
What starts as a hobby swiftly becomes an obsession, one which Chard are happy to help fuel.
Although much of Chard’s business is done online and over the phone, every day they see a large number of customers visiting the showroom; most of these are from Blackpool and the surrounding Lancashire areas, however, it not unusual for them to see customers from all over the UK and even from as far away as Australia, the Far East and the USA.
Chard have seen an escalation in customers taking their money out of savings and pension accounts and investing it into gold and silver bullion, particularly as customers’ faith in the banking system keeps being knocked and they are fed up with the low interest rates achieved and the high management fees charged.
If a customer wishes to avoid Capital Gains Tax, Chard have a number of coins which are exempt from CGT such as Sovereigns, Britannias and other Sterling coins.
Buying gold is a great way to invest as for most gold coins and bars it is tax free and many customers have made a fantastic return on their original investment. Silver is still a popular investment although buying new silver bars and coins does attract VAT in the UK and Europe, currently 20 per cent.
Chard recommends buying larger amounts of both gold and/or silver so that customers can take advantage of the price breaks and lower premiums and thereby getting more for their money.
Chard’s have options for purchasing second hand silver where you will only pay VAT on a small margin.
Although Chard are not financial advisors, they are always happy to help and advise customers to make the best purchase for their money.
They have a free guide to Investing in Precious Metals which is available for download on their website www.chards.co.uk and they are busy producing a number of videos which have been requested by their customers and can be viewed on their YouTube channel, Chard TV.
Chard manufacture their own jewellery and also sell second hand rings and can reset a stone into a different mount if required.
A recent customer was so delighted with the engagement ring that they had made for him that he travelled from Singapore to order and collect it – it was a whopper!
To coincide with the move to the new Harrowside showroom, Chard have revealed their new logo and are undergoing a rebranding of their image and are in the process of designing their new website which they aim to launch in the new year.
The new website will still retain the massive amount of information that customers enjoy, will be much easier to navigate and will have all of Chard’s products on one site thereby allow customers to buy gold, silver, coin products and jewellery all in one place.
Chard are always listening to their customers and their young collectors have been asking them about starting a Kids Coin Collectors Club; Chard are hoping to have more details available in the New Year when they might even be arranging visits to several schools which include ancient coins in the curriculum.
The staff at Chard are always looking at supporting the local community and they recently raised more than £673 for the Blackpool Victoria Breast Care Unit when they walked 10 miles in the 2014 Trinity Hospice Illumathon, dressed up as super heroes.
The next fund raising event will be the annual Christmas Jumper Day when they will donate the proceeds to the Happy House in Watumu, Kenya.