In an email addressed to Nationwide members and suppliers, dated Wednesday 7 September, managing director Colin Pocklington confirmed that the buying group would align with the International Jewellery Fair (IJF), organised by Expertise Events, as opposed to the Jewellers Association of Australia’s (JAA) Jewellery Tradeshow next year.
The news comes after the JAA revealed in May 2016 that it had split from a 25-year relationship with Expertise Events and it would conduct its own jewellery fair in 2017. The new event is scheduled to take place at the Moore Park Precinct in Sydney on the same dates as the long-running IJF, which will be held at the re-developed Darling Harbour Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Nationwide’s opening line in the email read: “Firstly, having two fairs is detrimental to the industry and will adversely affect most industry participants. We remain hopeful that the parties can in the near future find a way to work together on one event.”
The Leading Edge announcement, issued by general manager Josh Zarb at 10.35 am this morning, had similar sentiments, stating that all parties concerned could have found a way to support one single fair that “truly united the industry”.
Thorough decision process
Nationwide’s statement made it clear that the decision was not taken lightly.
“Each year 400 to 550 Nationwide members attend the fair, which is our group’s most important buying event for the year. We also provide millions in finance for members to spend at the fair with our preferred suppliers,” the email read.
It emphasised that the decision was “extremely important” for the group, which is the largest of Australia and New Zealand’s buying groups, representing more than 420 jewellery retail members and approximately 500 stores, as well as the industry. As such, a “thorough decision process” was conducted that included site inspections, cost estimates, a supplier survey and a member survey.
Significant weight was placed on two aspects when arriving at the decision, according to the email. The first was the opinion of the group’s members – buyers who would attend the trade show – and preferred suppliers.
“Only 31 per cent of preferred suppliers indicated that they would prefer to attend the JAA Tradeshow, and more importantly only 10 per cent of members,” the email stated. “Whilst other members would attend whichever fair Nationwide selects, the survey results indicate that we would have a lower attendance at Moore Park, by as much as 40 per cent, or more.
“No business can afford to ignore its customers. It is abundantly clear that our members wish to attend the fair at Darling Harbour.”
The other factor noted was the ongoing relationship between Nationwide and Expertise Events. Under the agreement, which was made in 1992, Expertise Events provides floor space at the fair for Nationwide on the basis that it conducts member meetings and holds its main buying event at the trade show.
“As our business and space requirements grew over the years, Expertise continued to honour the arrangement, enabling us to provide a quality experience to members with a VIP lounge, workshops, members meeting, Christmas catalogue and other displays. Both parties are completely satisfied with the arrangement, and have maintained an excellent business relationship for the entire 24 years.
“On a commercial/business basis there is no reason for us to break this agreement. Further, in our view, it would be unethical to do so simply because a third party (the JAA) has terminated its relationship with Expertise Events.”
The email went on to state: “Therefore, based on clear business fundamentals, and in the best interests of our members, and our suppliers, we will continue our longstanding agreement to provide our member VIP lounge and usual trade fair programme at the International Jewellery Fair.”
Similar to Nationwide, the email from Leading Edge stressed that the decision was not taken lightly given the Sydney trade fair period was “fundamentally important for our members, our supply partners and our overall business model”.
Zarb’s email emphasised that the JAA had not consulted with his group prior to making a strategic decision to create a second jewellery fair.
“Unfortunately Leading Edge management had no prior knowledge nor was involved in setting up another jewellery fair on the same dates as the fair that has been running for many years located in Darling Harbour.”
Zarb indicated that a thorough due diligence process had occurred.
“Having recently just completed our major members conference and having a successful exhibition at the IJF in Glebe Island Sydney we have used the opportunity to consult with our valued members and supply partners. We have also just completed an inspection of the Hordern Pavillion and Royal Hall of Industries at Moore Park, with our entire management team present,” the email read.
“The trade fair for Leading Edge Group – has become a major part of our yearly agenda in terms of member recruitment and providing a lounge to conduct one on one training with our members in a relaxed environment … Based on all the factors above and our current plans for August 2017 – we have made the decision to continue to exhibit at the jewellery fair run by Expertise Events located in Darling Harbour – as it offers the best vehicle to support our current business model.”
Support for the JAA
In July 2016, Showcase Jewellers buying group, which represents about 151 members and 217 stores, revealed it would exclusively support the JAA Jewellery Tradeshow.
However, Nationwide and Leading Edge stated a decision would be made following the 2016 IJF, which concluded Monday 29 August. Both noted it would not be in the group’s commercial interests to attend two fairs. Nationwide even suggested in an email obtained by Jeweller that was sent to members and suppliers in May that it could possibly conduct its own event.
While Nationwide is the largest buying group and Leading Edge is the smallest of the three, its membership has been increasing. Both the group’s statements highlighted that they supported the JAA and hoped that the industry could still be united in 2017 with one fair.
“It needs to be made very clear – that we support the JAA and the industry in every way – the majority of our members are members of the JAA and we will continue to support via membership and general assistance,” the Leading Edge email read.
“I only wish that all parties concerned could have found a way to support one single fair that truly united the industry and brought together our retail and supply partners – If there was any way that this could still be achieved we would support this with vigour.”
The Nationwide email offered similar sentiments: “We are strong supporters of the JAA, and like many in the industry want the JAA to not only survive, but prosper. Expertise Events has assured us that should the JAA once again enter into an agreement to support the International Jewellery Fair, that they will without hesitation restore the annual royalty payments to the JAA, in its capacity as the peak industry body.
“Barry [Jackson] and I have given considerable time and resources to the JAA over many years. We will continue to do so. Like many in the industry we will be using our best endeavours to help unite the industry towards a single fair.”
JAA executive director Amanda Hunter and JAA president Selwyn Brandt were not available for comment at the time of publication due to a scheduled board meeting.