Selwyn Pearson was initially appointed as an independent chairman from outside the jewellery industry to lead the forum
Fall-out over united NZ jewellery forum causes furore
By Coleby Nicholson
Rather than uniting the Kiwi jewellery industry last February’s Industry Forum has created more disunity after the independent chairman was told his services were no longer required. Could it mean another breakaway jewellery association?
Confusion abounds in New Zealand after the Jewellers Association of New Zealand (JANZ) confirmed it no longer supports the need for a peak body for the Kiwi jewellery industry, following private discussions with Jewellers & Watchmakers New Zealand (JWNZ).
JANZ is a specialist trade section of the New Zealand Retailers Association (NZRA) and represents approximately 300 jewellery retail members.
In an email sent to Jewellers & Watchmakers New Zealand (JWNZ) president Steve Crout, JANZ executive director Russell Sinclair declared that, “There is no need for a formal jewellery industry council” and “There is no obvious advantage to JANZ/NZRA, or our JANZ members, in encouraging or supporting the development of a new incorporated jewellery body”.
The move came as a surprise to Selwyn Pearson, the person appointed as the independent chair of the industry forum held in February. Over 18 people from eight Kiwi jewellery organisations attended the industry forum which was designed to begin a unification process of the fragmented New Zealand jewellery industry.
Pearson told Jeweller he was “gobsmacked” by a phone call from Sinclair telling him his services were no longer required, and attributing JANZ’s disassociation from the move for a united council to JWNZ’s reluctance to co-operate.
“He called me last week and told me that 'we [JANZ] are not going to have another meeting. We don’t feel there’s a need because JWNZ don’t want any involvement with anyone else.' That flew in the face of what came out of the forum,” Pearson said.
“I was told [by JANZ’s Sinclair] that I wasn’t needed anymore because JWNZ had no intention of joining a new body because they had no intention of sharing the [industry] magazine with anybody and no intention of going into a joint venture with anyone to run a trade fair. But that’s not what they said at the industry forum,” Pearson added.
Sinclair told Jeweller that JANZ’s decision to remove backing for a united jewellery council was the result of a vote at a JANZ Advisory Committee meeting, by the six JANZ members that make up the committee. “Of the six, there was one dissenting vote,” Sinclair said.
However, this version of events does not tally with the communications received by Pearson, who seems to have been told that his voluntary services were no longer required before the JANZ Advisory Committee even met.
In an email obtained by Jeweller dated May 24, Sinclair wrote to JWNZ president Steve Crout saying, “The JANZ Executive Committee is meeting tomorrow and one of the things we will be discussing is the next step following the meeting [industry forum] with Selwyn Pearson.
“I have told Selwyn there is no request or desire for a further meeting or further action at this stage by any party and that JWNZ will hold its trade show in 2011 and will continue with the publication of the magazine. I will be outlining to our Executive Committee that the NZRA sees no benefit to any party from forming a new incorporated body.”
On the same day Crout replied saying, “I agree with your analysis of the meeting chaired by Selwyn, and in particular, ’that the NZRA sees no benefit from forming a new incorporated society’.”
The emails suggest that Sinclair had already agreed with Crout that there would be no unification of the industry prior to the meeting of the JANZ Advisory Committee.
JANZ to break away from NZRA?
JANZ chairman Mark Becket told Jeweller that he is disappointed that the whole process has resulted in further fragmentation in the industry. “Plans are well advanced to move JANZ away from the NZRA,” Beckett announced.
Becket denies Sinclair’s claims that there was a “vote” by the Advisory Committee and said, “No vote was conducted. If it was it would have been minuted,” he said.
Another source contacted by Jeweller also disputes the claim that the Advisory Committee voted on a motion.
Pearson said, “My impression is that he [Sinclair] thought that it [a unified industry] was a wonderful idea until the penny dropped that NZRA could end up losing 350 members out of the retailers association.”
He added, “JWNZ has told JANZ that they have no intention of doing anything with any body and the best place for JANZ is to stay with NZRA. My question is; if NZRA is so wonderful, and so good for the jewellery industry, then why doesn’t JWNZ also join NZRA?”
Another person who is confused by this latest episode is Jewellery Manufacturers Federation (JMF) chairman Greg Jones.
He has not been officially advised of JANZ’s decision and said, "A number of jewellery related bodies attended the first meeting at the beginning of the year where a great deal of goodwill was expressed by all of the parties for the aim of establishing a single governing council for the New Zealand jewellery industry. I am concerned that the decision not to progress the proposal of a single governing council was made without discussion with JMF, given we are a partner of NZRA.”
Jones was also at a loss as to why Sinclair advised Pearson that his services were no longer required before the Advisory Committee even met.
“JMF believes that the only sensible outcome is that the rest of the parties move on to establish a single governing council for the New Zealand jewellery industry,” he said.
Sinclair told Jeweller that JANZ would pursue “an informal jewellery council” but he acknowledged that an informal ”council” was nothing more than a ”group meeting” rather than an organisation that represented the entire industry.
The debacle has caused uproar among the industry, with one prominent industry person – who did not wish to be named – saying, “This was always going to happen. On the one hand JWNZ will not give up its cozy, little club, and on the other hand NZRA does not want to lose 300 jewellers paying [membership] fees to NZRA. Although it’s no surprise, it’s a condemnation on our industry.”
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Posted May 31, 2011