Record turnout for Hong Kong fair
By Coleby Nicholson
Australian and Kiwi jewellers were in abundance at the Hong Kong Jewellery Show, which closed yesterday with record numbers.
Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), Hong Kong’s first fair for 2012 lived up to its reputation as the largest spring jewellery fair with a record number of exhibitors from 48 countries.
Final visitor numbers were not available at the time of publication but before the fair opened organisers forecasted a record number of exhibitors; over 3,100 companies from 48 countries. That’s an increase of more than 240 over 2011 and includes 10 Australian and one New Zealand exhibitor.
Speaking at a media conference on the second day of the fair, HKTDC Jewellery Advisory Committee chairman Lawrence Ma said that 2011 had matched 2010 as another year of growth for the Hong Kong jewellery industry.
“The total export value [of sales] in 2011 increased, giving Hong Kong jewellery exports, including re-exports, a 35 per cent growth rate to US$6 billion. Exports to all major regions increased in value: US 29 per cent and EU 20per cent,” Ma said.
Ma explained that some emerging markets had achieved significant growth in percentage terms - 50 per cent (ASEAN) and 76 per cent (BRICS).
As a sign of the fair’s increased international exposure outside of the Asian region, Ma said, “There are 17 group pavilions this year, as well as seven pavilions from major trade organisations. Argentina, Denmark and Myanmar are represented for the first time.”
The HKTDC is the international marketing arm for Hong Kong-based traders, manufacturers and service providers and promotes Hong Kong as a platform for doing business with China and throughout Asia.
Tourism sales play an important part for the local economy and Ma said “the Hong Kong [jewellery] market itself was vibrant, especially when you factor in sales to visitors from the Chinese mainland and from overseas.”
He explained that the Hong Kong Tourism Board surveyed tourists' spending in 2010 and found that 25 per cent of shopping expenditure was on watches and jewellery – 28 per cent in the case of mainland Chinese visitors.
Australian and Kiwi buyers
Around 700 Australian and New Zealand jewellery retailers and suppliers attended last year’s fair and HKTDC staff said that 2012 should see a similar number.
This year’s fair included 87 trade missions representing over 6,500 buyers. Four trade missions attended from Australia and New Zealand.
Each year the HKTDC organises a variety of networking meetings and cocktail parties and this year was no different. One of the most popular is the gala fashion parade, where a variety of models showcase a range of up-market, local designs including entries in 13th Hong Kong Jewellery Competition.
View fashion parade
Graham Jackson, managing director of Queensland-based Loloma Jewellers said this year’s fair was a complete contrast to 2010, which was still suffering from the global financial crisis.
“Compared to 2010 when the fair was in the depths of despair, and last year when it began to move out of the crisis, this year is a complete contrast. With the US market in growth, I think there are more buyers on the floor and it’s a very competitive market. Exhibitors want the business,” Jackson said.
Jackson explained he joined with a number of other independent retailers this year to form an informal buying group at the fair. “Instead of buying 10 items we’re offering to buy 100 and we’re finding that has impact and advantages for both the retailers and the suppliers.”
Jackson’s observations of the fair included patented diamond settings being popular (see other story), pearls prices being very competitive, and gemstone prices being down. “Tanzanite especially is a lot cheaper than what it was last year,” he said.
He puts that down to the “competitive restructuring of the industry”.
Jackson added that the order volume required by suppliers was still in decline.
Before the GFC, most suppliers refused to deal with independent jewellers because order volume was too small, but since the financial crisis suppliers will take almost any order.
Georgini managing director Gina Kougias agreed that order quantities were still realistic. While Kougias does not attend the Hong Kong fair to source jewellery she does use the show to find new packaging and visual merchandising ideas as well as small, specialist lines like ‘gift with purchase’.
“When we first started Georgini we were confronted with suppliers wanting minimum opening orders of $20,000, but that’s no longer an issue,” Kougias said.
This year’s Hong Kong International Jewellery Show was scheduled much earlier however next year the fair reverts to its normal dates, 5-9 March, 2013.
* A full report will appear in the April Jeweller. Coleby Nicholson attended the 2012 Hong Kong International Jewellery Show courtesy of the HKTDC.
Posted February 21, 2012