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After Bermuda’s million missing visitors, Crisson looks to future

An uptick in Dockyard business for the century-old HS & JE Crisson Ltd Jewellers comes at the end of a second forgettable year for Hamilton retail.

It also comes as the company is parting ways with a prime piece of Hamilton real estate, with its 71 Front Street building up for sale.

But company director Peter Crisson conceded that everyone in the tourist business will have to shake off two years of hard times. He said that Bermuda has lost more than a million visitors in that period.

“If you look at what we have had, visitor-wise,” he said, “it has had an impact, I’m sure, on anybody in the tourist industry, particularly any retailer.

“In 2019 we had 550,000 visitor arrivals, genuine tourists. But we haven’t had that for two years, so that means we are down a million potential customers in two years. That’s a problem when 70 per cent of your business is tourist-oriented.”

Meanwhile, the three-storey structure the business has used for 40 years is on the market after being vacated by the Crisson & Hind Art Gallery.

Mr Crisson said: “There have been expressions of interest but it is not yet under contract.”

“We’ve had the building since 1981. But now it is simply redundant to our needs. In fact, it has been for some time, even pre-Covid.

“We had the art gallery functioning in there, but it is simply time to move on. With the gallery moved out, it has been cleared and is now ready for whoever is going to go in there next.”

He added: “It is fairly priced and I hope whoever takes it over next is as successful in there as we have been over the years.”

Listed on the market for $1.5 million, and built circa 1930, the 5,200-square-foot building is one of many city properties listed on the market with commercial estate agents.

When the art gallery moved in, down from an upper floor to ground level, the jewellery inventory there was consolidated into the Crisson main store at 55 Front Street. Another Hamilton store is at 16 Queen Street.

In addition, there is one in the Clock Tower mall in Dockyard and there was one at the Fairmont Southampton Resort before the hotel was closed for renovations.

Mr Crisson said: “We’re still operating. We are very much in business, but we have another focus. Our shop on Queen Street, which was our original location, is very much in business. And we are actually ticking along quite nicely in Dockyard now that we are getting some cruise passengers.”

Next year, the Crisson family will mark 100 years of being in the jewellery business in Bermuda, an entire century after two brothers began what has always been a family business of fine jewels.

Reticent about future plans, considering Bermuda’s continuing battle with the pandemic, Mr Crisson would only say: “We have some interesting things that we are working on. We are busy getting through Covid before we can finalise what we will do for next year. But, yes, next year is an important anniversary for us.”

Up for sale: the Crisson building at 71 Front Street, Hamilton (File photograph)

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Published October 06, 2021 at 7:49 am (Updated October 06, 2021 at 8:19 pm)

After Bermuda’s million missing visitors, Crisson looks to future

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