He may have faced 30 challenging years in the jewellery sector, but for Allan Turner every day has been business as usual.
That is, until earlier this year after a national regulator failed to renew his jeweller trading licence and then ordered that he close shop for two months.
Turner says he got the shock of his life in February when the South African Diamond and Precious Metals Regulator requested that he close for 60 days because officials had still not finished processing his application – something he says that has never happened before.
The national body regulates all mining, raw mineral processing and selling of related goods by local businesses.
Turner started his jewellery business Turner Jewellers in 1980. Over the years the business has grown to employ about 50 workers.
Soon after his licence expired in December last year, Turner submitted an application to the regulator to allow him to continue processing raw minerals.
However, he was told that he would need to cease operations for two months while his licence was being renewed. This, despite him having submitted the necessary company documents to the regulator to prove that he was a legitimate jeweller and dealer.
“It came as a huge shock. That’s something I’ve never had to do when applying for my licence and I’ve successfully reapplied for a new licence for years with no such challenge,” says Turner.
He says he was frustrated with having to repeatedly contact the regulator.
“I was not given a clear answer. Instead, I was left feeling too discouraged to continue working while they dealt with their bureaucratic processes.
Meanwhile I lost business,” he says.
In March, he contacted the Red Tape Reduction Unit via e-mail asking for assistance.
“I sent an e-mail detailing everything and the unit agreed to assist me,” he says. After six weeks, Turner Jewellers’ application was approved and in April the business was given a new trading licence.
The Red Tape Reduction Unit assisted Turner Jewellers to speed up the delayed process. The unit argued with the regulator that in terms of regulation 12 of the Precious Metals Act, upon applying for a new licence after it expires, a jeweller may continue to do business until the regulator deems the applicant fit or not fit to have a new permit.
Although the business lost R2 million during the six-week period it was forced to close, Turner believes it could have been worse had it not been for the unit’s assistance.
“Were it not for the mere existence and the kind help of the unit’s staff, I’m sure I would’ve had to wait much longer, but now I can do business without having to worry,” says Turner.