GMK stalwart and now a leading light at Holland & Holland, Oskar Waktare comes from a long line of gun traders.
Please tell us who you are and who you work for
My name is Oskar Waktare and I am Finance Director for GMK Ltd. I am also currently the Chairman of the Gun Trade Association.
Business has been surprisingly good given the COVID situation. Last year we obviously suffered significantly during the first lockdown but we managed to bounce back with some very strong months in the autumn. This year has started well and we are anticipating strong growth on last year’s sales. We are launching some exciting products this year so we are optimistic.
I have direct responsibility for the Beretta Gallery store in St James and a Concession in Harrods. These have suffered more than the wholesale business due to lack of tourists and commuters in London.
Up to anything new?
In February this year, the Beretta Group concluded the deal for the purchase of Holland & Holland and the company was assigned as a 100% subsidiary of GMK Ltd. This is a fascinating and prestigious new venture, taking up over 80% of my working time.
Holland & Holland is one of the finest names in gun making with an incredible history and legacy. The factory is full of the finest craftsman, handmaking and finishing almost every part of the guns.
The Holland & Holland Shooting Ground in Northwood has unbelievable shooting facilities including the indoor rifle cinema, the only one of its kind in the UK.
GMK also acquired Centanex Ltd in December last year through the purchase of the remaining 56% from our shareholding partner. Centanex make distraction devices for the military and Law Enforcement.
Do you shoot? If so, why? And what?
Yes, I probably go shooting around six times a year, but I’m sure that will now increase with the new ownership of Holland & Holland and their shooting ground.
I shoot about three driven pheasant or partridge days a year, mainly through invitation. I shoot clays about the same amount. I tend to use the same gun for both, a DT10EELL, although I plan to change gun this year. If we have them available, I’d like to use a Beretta SL3 for game and a 694 for clays.
I also make an annual pilgrimage to Scotland for a few days deer stalking on the Blair Athol estate. I obviously use a Sako or Tikka rifle for this, usually trying out the latest model.
Growing up, my father used to shoot game or clays most weekends, and I would often be there to accompany him. These days, I still love shooting but don’t feel the need and don’t have the time to do it every week.
Aside from shooting, what are the other loves of your life?
I love travelling, holidaying to exotic locations such as Costa Rica and Borneo in the past, although these days I have been exploring the various regions of Croatia. My other love is football, both playing and watching. However, as an Arsenal fan I no longer enjoy the latter.
Which other fieldsport/shooting businesses or organisations do you most admire, and why?
I have a great admiration for the work done by the GWCT. Run as a charity, their work is very highly respected and can be invaluable for the defence of shooting.
What’s the biggest threat currently facing shooting, in your opinion?
Ultimately legislation is the biggest threat to shooting. More specifically, the inability of shooting organisations to speak with one voice in defence of all forms of shooting can be a barrier to opposing legislative threats.
What can the government do to support the industry more?
Currently we need clear guidance on import/export and removing red tape in this area. Brexit has caused a lot of confusion, particularly with Ireland and Northern Ireland.
What’s your favourite shooting read?
Honestly speaking, the publication I probably read most often is Gun Trade News as I find the articles most relevant to my role within the GTA.
And the best bit of kit you ever bought?
My new Zamberalin Hunter Pro walking boots have been invaluable bits of gear on all of my Scottish stalking trips.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself that we might not know…
I appeared in a series of GMK (which was then known as Gunmark) advertisements in the late 1970s early and 1980s along with Gough Thomas, who was the premier gun writer of his day.
If you could only eat one kind of soup for the rest of your life, what flavour would it be?
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