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Klimek Jewellers in Lemon Street, Truro

GEMMOLOGIST HANDS OVER HER BELOVED JEWELLERY BUSINESS TO HER TEAM

Much-loved gemmologist Bettina Klimek has handed over her Cornish business to her staff with support from EO specialist Chris Maslin. The Truro-based jewellers has now become an employee-owned trust.

Bettina said: “I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to secure the future of the business and my team by taking the employee ownership route. I want to spend more time with my children and grand-children and this means I can gradually hand over the business to people who are committed to its future.” 

It was back in 2002 that Bettina and her late husband Karol moved their young Cornish business to Lemon Street and began to trade. Karol was already a highly qualified and respected jeweller and gemmologist who had worked with companies globally sourcing the best gemstones. 

Son of a Polish prisoner of war, Karol grew up in Kent and began an apprenticeship with G Cornell & Son in Maidstone. This was the start of an illustrious career which took him all over the world, working with names like Katz & Lourie and Camden Diamonds. He even had dinner with Elton John and sold him a pink diamond stud earring! 

He met his wife Bettina and Karol encouraged her to study gemmology.  Bettina then became qualified herself and became a Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. The couple had four children and lived in many places as Karol’s career developed including South Africa and France. They moved to Truro to give them more stability for their children and built a life in Cornwall – although travel would remain important and frequent for the family. 

“I was born in Cornwall and, although I grew up in Surrey and worked in Paris in my early career days, it was a huge factor when deciding where to settle when we returned from living in France.”

Sadly Karol passed away suddenly in 2017 and Bettina ran the business herself. It was in 2022/3 that she felt the time was coming for her to retire and spend more time with her family, some of whom live in Italy and New Zealand.

 “I felt that the time was right for me to retire and hand the business on but I wanted to find the right way of doing this for my team and for the community of Truro. I had heard of an employee ownership trust but was worried that it would mean my team having to find a large sum of money. 

“I attended a workshop through a local accountant and realised that was not the case. I was referred to Chris Maslin of Go EO who really guided me through the process smoothly.” 

Chris, who runs Go EO from his base in Kent said: “Many of the company owners I work with have a deep commitment to their team and to their communities, and don’t want to see their business legacy disappear or be absorbed into another company. They want to pass the baton on to those they trust. We’re so thrilled that as a result of this, the community of Truro can benefit from this wonderful business continuing to provide local employment for the foreseeable future.”

An employee owned business means that the founder or owner can exit the business by selling their shares to a trust run by employees. That founder can exit immediately or over a period of time, whatever suits both the company and their own personal plans. Chris of Go EO did this himself when he decided it was time to step back from the accountancy firm he set up in Kent. 

For Bettina she’s still involved in the business, but is training the team ready for her to leave completely in 2025. 

“It’s a journey and we are still on this journey,” Bettina said. “I’m training my team to take over and I didn’t quite realise how much I actually did routinely on a day to day basis. However we will get there and I can be on hand as a consultant even when I’ve finally ‘left the building’.”

 Go EO supports business owners who want to exit – or plan to exit – their business and are committed to handing it on to their staff. Chris and his team ensure the setup of an Employee Ownership Trust is compliant and fit for the future. For more information about Chris Maslin and Go EO visit https://goeo.uk

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