Financial woes at Shreve is a cause for vendor concerns and layoffs

Shreve, Crump & Low, the venerable Boston jeweler that recently moved to a new 22,000 square-foot location in Boston’s historic Black Bay in Oct. 2005, is reportedly having financial troubles that has resulted in late paying of vendors and staff layoffs and resignations.

According to an article in the Boston Globe, some jewelry and gift vendors have asked the store to return merchandise because of late payments and concerns about bankruptcy.

One of the vendors, Cartier, in a statement to JCK, said, “Cartier has decided not to renew Shreve, Crump & Low’s Authorized Jewelry Dealership for watches.”

The article also named Hand & Hammer Silversmiths, Woodbridge, Va., as a company that is no longer accepting orders from Shreve. Some vendors, including Eglomise Designs and Suna Brothers, told the newspaper that they will stand by the jeweler.

In addition, the story, published in April, says that since November, more than a dozen Shreve employees were terminated or resigned from the Boston store and its second store in Chestnut Hill, including the chief marketing officer and two managers.

A source told JCK that Shreve’s marketing department is no longer staffed.

Tom Gillispie of Tyringham Holdings Inc., Richmond, Va., which is the holding company for Shreve’s and Schwarzschild Jewelers in Richmond, Va., acknowledged that there were some cash-flow problems and layoffs, but said they have made payment arrangements with vendors and that most vendors have accepted the terms.

“As far as I’m concerned we have been quite satisfied we have worked out satisfactory terms that the vendors have accepted by and large,” Gillispie told JCK. He refused to elaborate.

Calls to Stephen C. Elkin, Shreve’s interim CEO, were not returned.

Another factor, which may have led to financial problems, according to JCK‘s source, is the fact that while Shreve was moving its flagship to a new location it also moved two of its Schwarzschild stores in the Richmond area, where it has three locations.

The newspaper, quoting unnamed sources, said that the move by Shreve to a new location a block away from a space it occupied since 1929, didn’t pay off and traffic has been slow. The new store with an elaborate design featuring a Steuben Glass sculpture in the center is designed to appeal to a younger generation with contemporary designers at a broad range of prices.

The article also says that the company, which bills itself as America’s oldest luxury jeweler, has been battling turmoil since chief executive Merritt Mayher and chief financial officer Barbara Kallus resigned in the fall of 2005.

The story says that at least one rival jeweler, Schiffman’s, has inquired about the sale of Shreve’s. Schiffman’s owns Shreve & Co. in San Francisco, a former sister store of Shreve, Crump & Low.

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