HILL Sir Michael

Sir Michael Hill
$300 million

Big changes could be in store for the Michael Hill International jewellery store chain if a new retailing concept launched this year takes off. The first Emma & Roe store has opened at the Caneland Central shopping centre in Mackay, Queensland. Named after daughter Emma, who is deputy chairman, and Christine Lady Hill’s maiden name, it follows trials at five Queensland outlets on a more engaged style of retailing that layers, mixes and matches jewellery items with everyday wear. The company says Emma & Roe is an “interactive shopping experience that invites customers to style their own looks based around the belief that jewellery is the ultimate expression of life’s key moments.” Meanwhile, the more traditional focus on diamonds, bridal and fine jewellery will continue under the Michael Hill brand. Sales in all three countries of operation – New Zealand, Australia and Canada – have risen about 5% in the past year but the share price has been more subdued over tax disputes.  The company reached a one-off payment settlement of $A6 million with the Australian Tax Office in April but a larger dispute with the New Zealand Inland Revenue is yet to resolved. It could go to court in 2016 but hasn’t affected store expansion plans in Australia or Canada. However, the pressure on the share price has pushed the company’s value to $475 million, more than $100 million down on a year ago. The Hill family company, Durante Holdings, has 53% of the company, to which Sir Michael can add one of the country’s leading privately owned golf courses – The Hills at Arrowtown – and a superyacht, VVS1, named after the highest grade of diamond. Sir Michael’s other passion is music and he continues to sponsor the biennial Michael Hill International Violin Competition.