We’re still living in strange times, but some elements of normality have returned and it’s good to see that there are some exciting new developments at Rigby. You’ve just taken on Jérôme Lanoue as part of the international sales team. Can you tell us how this appointment came about and what Jérôme’s role will be?
Jérôme is one of the true gentlemen of the global gun trade. I’ve known him for probably 10 years, and was incredibly impressed with what he has achieved and just in my general dealings with him. Put simply, he’s just a first class operator. Very polite, very straightforward – as I say a real gentleman. We’re absolutely delighted to have him on board.
When I heard that he might be available, we got together and the decision to take him on was a no brainer for us. He fits the mould of a Rigby team member perfectly. He also adds something unique in that he’s based in Europe so we can cater better for our customers and friends over the channel.
Another great thing is that because he’s a trained gunmaker he brings something special to his sales. The clients gain a greater insight into the gunmaker’s art working with someone like Jérôme than perhaps they would with somebody who hasn’t worked at the bench. He’s also a very keen, passionate hunter, and at Rigby we’re very proud that all of our guys have hunted and appreciate its value.
Another exciting new development is Rigby’s investment in the Traditional English Guncase Company, which promises to be a great boost for gun trade craftsmanship. Tell us about that.
Rigby has partnered with the Traditional English Guncase Company (TEG). It’s a family-owned business, with generations of experience making guncases and epitomises some of the best things about the gun trade craftsmanship.
The team at TEG are very passionate about what they do. I’ve been extremely impressed with the guys there. Their products are all unique pieces and made entirely by hand, right down to the stitching. When the opportunity arose, we saw the possibility of a synergy with Rigby – they were already making a lot of cases for us. I feel very strongly that these small crafts that form part of the gun trade need to be preserved. There aren’t many artisan gun case manufacturers in the UK or even in the world, and we really wanted to support them, and by making this investment support the wider gun trade. There are a great number of gunmaking companies out there that use TEG and it’s very important that people know our plan is to support them by helping with their processes and enabling them to produce even better guncases in a greater volume. The former owner, Ian Tomlin, is staying on as a consultant and his son is the new managing director. These are very exciting times.
Provided COVID-19 is kept under control, there’s another Rigby Experience approaching at the West London Shooting School. What are the highlights of these events for you?
They’re a great chance to interface with clients in a very direct way. Unlike being at a trade show or even in the showroom here, you can actually handle and shoot the rifles, and there’s a lot to be said for that – it’s only then that they really come alive. I remember when I was a teenager and working in a fly fishing shop selling fishing rods, if you could get someone to go out the back of the shop and have a cast with the rod – rather than standing there wiggling it in the showroom – it made all the difference. These things – of course they’re beautiful objects – but they’re made to be used, they’re fit for purpose. By being present with customers shooting the guns and rifles it really gives us a great opportunity to showcase what we do.
We see that you’ve added some more stunning pieces by engraver Geoffrey Lignon to Rigby’s sporting art store. Which is your favourite?
The elephant: it’s spectacular. It’s hard to convey its size properly on the website, but it’s a big old piece of art. If you’ve got the wall space for it, it’s very, very impressive: fairly breathtaking and definitely my favourite. I also like the new African wild dog picture. Geoffrey’s a fantastic artist and we’ve got a good stable of artists here now so watch this space as we’re going to keep adding to Rigby Art.