Change at Holland & Holland

Nigel Stuart reported to have resigned.

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Issues & Events|April 2024

Three years ago Holland & Holland recruited Nigel Stuart as the first Chief Operations Officer to take charge following the take-over of the famous London gunmaker by Beretta.

Holland & Holland, long considered among the top three British gunmakers, along with Purdey and Boss, then boasted a large and prestigious Bruton Street shop, the fabulous and newly expanded Shooting Ground and the Harrow Road factory, where their best guns and rifles have been made since 1893.

Nigel Stuart was recruited following a successful career running a luxury yacht-building company, which he returned to profitability. It was hoped he would focus that expertise on the gun-maker and achieve a similar turnaround. Under previous owner Chanel, Holland & Holland had been losing money for years.

Holland & Holland still boasts probably the best facilities in the British gun trade.

During his tenure, Holland & Holland cut staff numbers in the factory by a third and re-structured. They introduced a new over & under model 'The Noble' in 2023 and  moved to an upstairs showroom above the Beretta Gallery in St James's.

Now the search for a new Director will, no doubt, begin. The list of candidates is not going to be a long one. Beretta may well want to inject some outside business know-how but asking an executive who lacks a deep knowledge of gun-making to lead one of the country's national treasures is not without risk.

Dan Jago at Purdey came from wine retail and Arthur De Moulas at Boss owned supermarkets, but he is the owner, not just an executive, so his case is different.

Whoever does take on the role will need to be well advised by some veteran gunmakers, though such creatures are in short supply. The role models for revival currently active are Marc Newton of Rigby and Anthony Alborough-Tregear of Westley Richards. Both men have been succesful in reviving the fortunes of old businesses by recruiting well, having a clear vision and the courage to execute it. Both, however were steeped in guns and gunmaking from an early age; Marc was mentored by Paul Roberts and Anthony by Simon Clode.

Beretta has the money and the gunmaking power to make Holland & Holland succeed but the successor to Nigel Stuart will be a crucial cog in the wheel of success and must fit.

Managing gunmakers, designers, machinists, out-workers, acting as chief salesman for the brand and the products, being the public relations face of the company and a visionary with the strength to force that vision through a rigid corporate blockade is not a task for an amateur and it is too steep a learning curve for someone outside the gun trade in my opinion.

Holland & Holland is a fantastic brand, with a wonderful history. It deserves to be re-born as a premier league British gunmaker.

Whoever runs Holland & Holland needs to become 'Mr. Holland' in effect. He needs to be a gunmaker with passion for, and knowledge of, his products. Enthusiastic gun buyers are generallty a knowledgeable lot. They want to buy their guns from a real gunmaker.

Nigel Stuart is a nice man and a capable executive, but he was never a gunmaker and he never quite looked right as the face of one of Britain's top firms.


Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on

Issues & Events|April 2024

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