NATIONAL JEWELER 23 And I was extremely proud to be accepted as a student intern.” After he completed his law degree, Cartier offered him a job and Bédos didn’t hesitate to accept. Like so many others, one job was all it took to fall in love with the industry. He started working in product development for the company’s international watch division at Cartier in London and nearly three de- cades later, he’s still in the jewelry business. After accepting that initial job, Bedos spent the next 16 years at Cartier and its parent company, Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, before leaving to head Boucheron International for seven years. Then, in 2012, he and his wife decided it was time for a change for their four young children. They moved their family across the Atlantic to Montreal, after he was offered the job at Birks. The Canadian brand has been around since 1879 and, today, is a publicly held company operating a chain of 59 jewelry stores. Slightly more than half of those stores (34, 32 Birks plus two Brinkhaus stores) are in Canada but Birks also owns the 24 Mayors stores in Florida and Geor- gia, along with the Rolex Boutique Mayors in Orlando. Bédos said the Birks job intrigued him for two reasons. First, it gave his wife and him the chance to raise their children in Montreal, where they would be exposed to international ex- periences and a bilingual culture. The chil- dren have spoken both French and English since they learned to talk, and the languages share official federal status in Canada. Secondly, it put him on the other side of the counter, so to speak. After years on the supplier side of the business, the Birks job gave Bédos the chance to lead a retail chain with a long history, and to develop fresh, innovative product lines that were exclusive to, and branded as, Birks. These include the gold-focused “Muse Ribbon,” the edgy “Rock & Pearl,” the diamond clusters of “Snowflake,” and the philanthropy-focused “Bee Chic.” Ten percent of the sales from a silver pendant that’s included in the bee collection goes to the Honey Bee Research Centre at the University of Guelph in Ontario, one of the many institutions studying the decline of the honeybee population. Since Bédos came on board, he’s also made store renovation a priority. According to the company, since 2012, it has remodeled or relocated seven stores, and opened three new doors in Canada, while moving or remodeling five stores in Florida and opening one new one. While there are no guarantees in retail today, even for those who seemingly make all the right moves—revamping prod- uct lines and marketing campaigns, and overhauling stores to make them look more modern and experiential—the changes Bédos and his team implemented have produced positive results so far. 2017 ABOUT JEAN- CHRISTOPHE BÉDOS AGE: 53 HOMETOWN: Toulouse, France YEARS IN JEWELRY: 29 FUN FACT: He is an avid gardener, rowing champion, and a now-retired rugby player who also loves to ski, sing, eat, and drink. “He’s done what I consider to be a masterful job of changing the nature of Birks stores. I think he’s the real deal. He gets it.” —Alan Zimmer Montreal-based Birks Group owns and operates the Mayors jewelry stores in Florida and Georgia. Pictured here is a newly remodeled Mayors in Fort Lauderdale.