Get to know Andrew Ambrose, responsible for leading, directing, creating and developing sales growth at James Purdey & Sons Ltd
Please tell us who you are and who you work for:
My name is Andrew Ambrose and I am Director of Gun Sales for James Purdey & Sons Ltd.
Like every business, Covid presented many different challenges, especially when we rely on our Audley House premises to drive some of our traffic. However, in spite of the restrictions we had a good year in terms of gun order intake and we increased our digital presence, which greatly helped our clothing and accessories side of the business.
Equally importantly, however, our factory remained fully working through both lockdowns. Since April and the relaxation of regulations began, we have been extremely fortunate and have experienced a very good ‘bounce back’ (a horrible phrase—but works here, I think). Both myself and my team have been overwhelmed with the positive response around the world from clients wishing to get going again.
Up to anything new?
We launched our online configurator on 12 August (it couldn’t have been any other date!) and both new and existing clients have responded extremely well to this innovation, which has helped drive new orders. We have started with one model but intend to roll it out to our other models. We are also planning other innovations to be launched in the near future, both on the gun side and across the wider Purdey business in general.
Do you shoot? If so, why? And what?
I do shoot, which is a very different question to whether I can shoot! As I always say to people, when you work in this industry and in sales in particular, the busiest time for orders is naturally during the shooting season and, sadly, I do not find I have much time during this period to shoot.
So, in reality, I get the opportunity to shoot two to three times a season. For me, the best shoot day involves good company, camaraderie, the etiquette and enjoying yourself. Pulling the trigger, in my humble opinion, is a very small part of the day.
Aside from shooting, what are the other loves of your life?
Aside from my family of course, football and gardening. I used to be a Watford Football Club season ticket holder (pre-marriage and pre-children) and using the analogy of the roller coaster, life as a Watford fan is heavily focused on the downwards motion. That said, I have had some of my best days out at football matches and supporting Watford you do need a sense of humour. I run a six-a-side football league and so still play football every Sunday… sadly, 11-a-side days are long gone.
Which other fieldsport/shooting businesses or organisations do you most admire, and why?
I think any shooting business that is trying to innovate, look forward and bring in new ideas gains my respect. I’ve been impressed with gunmakers being more proactive on social media, for example Carl Russell and AW Rule & Son Gunmakers Ltd.
They are not resting on their laurels and in the same way as we have tried, for example, here at Purdey with our 360 view of Audley House, they are trying different messages and ideas to promote their business. Along similar lines, Stephen & Son’s new gunshop in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, is testimony to embracing the future. I joined this industry in 1998 and the ‘good old days’ was an oft mentioned phrase that grated on me a little bit more as each year passed.
What’s the biggest threat facing shooting, in your opinion?
I read this section in each edition and the statement that keeps cropping up is the inability of our various shooting organisations to speak with one voice. Sadly, there has been no further progress made in this area than when I joined the industry, which is, frankly, a depressing state of affairs.
I recently counted nine organisations that represent various parts of the industry, which seems incomprehensible when you compare it to other sectors. Until we have a single, effective voice we are ineffectual as an industry, which ultimately means any legislation changes or external threats will be successful.
What can the government do to support the industry more?
Personally, I would like to see the government show their position on hunting and shooting and their long-term aims. At present, it is simply a matter of whisper, rumour and misquotes, but then that said, all governments are very short term, and so really it is going to be up to us as an industry to lead the agenda.
What’s your favourite shooting read?
I apologise in advance to the other shooting magazines but I am always impressed with the content and presentation of Fieldsports Magazine. Asking Chris Packham to guest edit, as an example, was a risky and bold move, but one I thoroughly respected and supported.
And the best bit of kit you ever bought?
The Purdey Vatersay Cape… and, yes, I paid for it!
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself or your business that we might not know…
I have three older brothers and five stepbrothers; it got busy at times growing up in my house.
If you could only eat one kind of soup for the rest of your life, what flavour would it be?
Oskar Waktare already took lobster bisque, so French fish soup or the official title of Soupe de Poisson with Rouille and Gruyère (I cannot speak French and had to Google this) is fantastic.