Making a mint fit for the future

The Royal Mint, which is one of the biggest employers in Wales, is creating a portfolio of business interests as it evolves from its traditional role as a manufacturer of coins, its chief executive said.

Addressing a meeting of Cardiff Breakfast Club, Anne Jessopp, who was appointed the Royal Mint’s first chief executive in its 1,000-year history earlier this year, said that while coin usage was declining in the UK and other parts of the world, they would still be very much in circulation for at least the next 10-15 years.

Mrs Jessopp said that building on the Royal’s Mint “authentic and trusted British brand status”, it was expanding its portfolio into areas like tourism, gift retail and secure storage for coins and precious metals such as gold.

It has also launched a collectors’ service and a has a 23% stake in a company specialising in historic coins, where it is also now looking to move into collectable notes.

The decision to move the Royal Mint to its current home to Llantrisant, which will celebrate its 50th year in December, was made by then minister and south Wales Labour MP Jim Callaghan.

The business, which pays an annual dividend to the UK Treasury, has 470 Welsh firms in its sup- ply chain.

Ms Jessopp said: “Coins in the UK and right around the world are reducing. So we have a new vision and strategy in reinventing the Royal Mint for the 21st century and ensuring that we are recognised as the most trusted and authentic British organisation.

“We want to be here for the next century and therefore we really need to change what we do. And it not just about changing it slightly, but transforming and reinventing it.”

Ms Jessopp, who was previously the Royal Mint’s HR director, added: “People really trust our brand and think it is authentic. We are an international business, at around 40% [revenues]. But even when we are international, it is the Britishness that people really value.

“My job is to make sure we achieve this over the next five years, with the customer at the heart of it.”

On the outlook for coin production, she said: “We are a currency business making circulating coins, but they are falling away globally. In Australia it has fallen 43% over the past five years. In the UK we have been seeing over a long period a 5% decline each year.

“And in this previous year we had quite a significant decline in the second half, as when we said to everybody, ‘Bring back your old £1 coins’, everybody brought back all the coins they had in their jars. So in the second half of last year we didn’t have to make any new UK coins.

“The great thing about coins, although not so much now, is that they last for 20 years, so you don’t need them to be used that much less before we don’t need to make them anymore. We believe that coins will still be in circulation in the UK certainly for the next 10 to 15 years, but there will be a lot less and they will be used a lot less too. Therefore our requirement to make them will be a lot less.”

The Royal Mint has a thriving commemorative coins collector business, which has grown from a profit of around £7m three years ago to £17m in the past year.

Ms Jessopp said: “So that is real growth and has been about under- standing our customers and doing new and different products.”
Its precious metals business was launched three years ago, which the chief executive described as being another strategic growth area.

She added: “We are also look- ing at different areas like wealth management and financial products as well.

“We have 100,000 people a year visit our Royal Mint Experience. If I said to the staff five years ago, ‘We are going to be in the tourist business’, they would have said, ‘We make coins, don’t be crazy’. But we are in the tourist business.”
At the start of this month, the Royal Mint launched a new gift business, with an emphasis on precious metals and money related items.

Initially it will be digitally focused, but there are plans for it go into retailers such as Harrods.

The Royal Mint also has an emerging security business.

Ms Jessopp said: “Our site is 34 acres and we are so secured. So how do we use that capability that we have got?

“We already have a vault where we keep gold, but last year we open a safety deposit centre. All safety depot centres are moving out of the banks as they move away from the high street. Anyone can store what they want, but we are also working with other partners to wholesale that as well.”

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