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From hut to high street - life's a beach for jeweller

From Donegal beach stall to 
Dublin's most expensive shopping street - it has been an exciting journey for jeweller Pete Boyle, who has just opened a store on Grafton Street.

Irish-owned Argento, which has 50 jewellery stores around the UK and Ireland, was founded by Mr Boyle in 1997.

He started out selling Celtic-style creations from a stall on Rossnowlagh beach and now 27 years later he is still at the helm of his business.

The company is the UK and Ireland's biggest retailer of brands Pandora, Thomas Sabo and Nomination, and also sells its own-brand jewellery under the labels Karma, August Woods and Dirty Ruby.

His new Grafton Street address commands a €70,000 a year rent for a ground-floor and basement presence. Its opening creates seven jobs.

It will be Argento's flagship store in Dublin, said property consultant Savills.

"We have invested heavily in building brand presence on the high street," said the businessman.

The 43-year-old bucked the trend of declining retail sales in recent years - in 2012 had increased annual sales by 47pc, or €25m. It also reported profits of nearly €5m in the same year, a 10pc rise on 2011.

The Strabane entrepreneur was bitten by the business bug early on in life.

As a teenager he set up a stall selling mirrors at the Ballyshannon Folk Festival in Donegal and continued selling his creations in Belfast during his college days at the University of Ulster.

Mr Boyle only the made the transition from a stall on the street to a shop on the high street after Belfast City Council banned street trading in 1998.