OI Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, class of 2005, is the Managing Director of Fears Watches, a family firm established in 1846 and one of the oldest watchmakers in Britain. Nicholas revived the firm in 2016 and was expecting 2020 to be the best year yet for the luxury watch brand. His story was recently featured in the Metro and we have brought it to you here.
On the wall in his office, Nicholas has a portrait of his great-great-great-grandfather, Edwin Fear, who launched the firm when Queen Victoria was only a few years into her reign. When he left the office for the final time in March, as the country went into lockdown, Nicholas was inspired by this portrait to make sure his company could survive one of the biggest changes in this country's history.
He explained to the Metro how he went about this, taking his CV to every supermarket near his home in Canterbury, Kent. He’d worked out that if he didn’t take a salary during lockdown, cash reserves meant he could continue to pay his three staff and watchmaker until mid-August, but if he got another job, he could keep the prestigious firm going for even longer.
"'That Monday, Asda called to offer me the 2am-8am shift five days a week,’ says Nicholas. ‘It was walking around the aisles fulfilling their home-delivery orders. ‘I’m going to do this and get my company through it’. ‘For the next two months, I’d get up at half-past midnight, walk to work - my car broke down that first week and no garage was open to fix it - come home, get an hour’s sleep then get up again and run Fears until 5pm then go back to bed. ‘Working at Asda was tough – I did 16,000 steps a shift and have never been so fit and healthy. But the moment I got that first pay cheque, it was absolutely worth it. ‘I needed a bit for our own personal bills, and the rest I could put back into the business.’
"Despite the exhaustion, Nicholas had no regrets. He spent two months working for just above the minimum wage before leaving when business at Fears began to improve.
"‘In March we were looking at having our best year yet, with several new product launches,’ says Nicholas. ‘But in April we made just £145 in sales, which is petrifying. ‘However, that month we started to get more inquiries, and in May they started turning into orders.’"
The company will celebrate its 175th anniversary in January 2021, and this has encouraged Nicholas to continue working. As he told the Metro: "Even if the entire economic system collapses, we still have to be going."
Nicholas Bowman-Scargill OI
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