Someone recently told me, “The only good thing about 2012 is that it’s about to end!” It’s true!. It’s been another difficult year for many retailers and suppliers, however it hasn’t been all doom and gloom
as we have recently reported.
So, as 2012 draws to a close, it’s time for my annual review some of the year’s highs and lows in the Australian and New Zealand jewellery industries. The year seemed to pass by faster than ever and thanks to the internet we seem to be on deadline every day, and while we are always busy it’s important not to take everything too seriously.
Throughout the year we’ve attempted to report on serious matters affecting the industry but at the same time have a little fun along the way, so, once again, we hope you enjoy our last effort before we close for the Christmas and New Year break … 2012 Hits & Misses!
In late May, Jeweller
broke the news that Karin Adcock was standing down as Pandora’s president. Having started the business
with her husband Brooke in 2004, Pandora Australia went onto become, as they say, the stuff of legends.
Beginning in her garage in Sydney, Adcock managed to build Pandora Australia into a $120 million (wholesale) behemoth in just six years, so much so that the local business model became the blueprint for all other international territories that had not yet experienced what became known as the “P Phenomenon”.
After eight years steering the ship, during which time the company was acquired by Axcel, Denmark’s largest private equity fund, the affable Adcock said she needed a better work-life balance. She was hoping for a “quiet departure” but the loyal Pandora staff were never going to let that happen.
The ensuing surprise party extravaganza was the first time I saw Adcock lost for words!
Since leaving she has continued in her roles as chairman of the Pandora Australia Advisory Board and Chairman of the Pandora Franchise Advisory Council.
Adcock handed over the reins in July to David Allen
who, with no previous jewellery industry experience, has gone about quietly earning the respect from the wider industry.
What were they thinking?
I dunno about you, but I don’t think fighting the government is a good idea.
Not only is the government much bigger than you, it has much deeper pockets so you’ll most likely lose the fight.
But how smart are you if, having lost one fight with the ACCC, you decide to get in the ring with it a second time?
Well, that’s exactly what jewellery retailer Zamels did! Perhaps the company wasn’t sufficiently content with the whack it got from the ACCC in 2006 when it was found guilty of misrepresenting savings to consumers. Zamels went back for more, this time losing another case.
While Zamels’ conduct might at first appear dumb, the truth is the two cases were under different owners. The first case occurred when the original Zamel family still owned the business and while the court case continued long after the business was sold, the Zamels were eventually fined $380,000.
Private equity firm Quadrant acquired Zamels in 2007 and formed The Jewellery Group (TJG), which then ran foul of the ACCC for similar practices. The ACCC issued proceedings over the company’s May 2010 catalogue.
So the record is: 2-0, two fights for two knockouts to the ACCC.
To confuse the matter a little more, Zamels was then sold again, this time to an Indian jewellery company. Quadrant unloaded the retail chain to the Mumbai–based company, M Suresh, which so far has not entered the boxing ring with the ACCC!
Result: Miss (TKO!)
Identifying the winner of this year’s “WTF, OMG! category” took all of two seconds.
Journalists are often accused of sensational reporting and beating up stories.
Worse, we are often accused of not letting the truth get in the way of a good story. But nothing could have been further from the truth when, in November,
The story resembled a plot from a low-budget Hollywood movie, with accusations of blackmail and fraud along with a salacious lesbian love triangle. The saga would have been amusing if it didn’t involve crimes that resulted in jewellery stores being closed and 60 people losing their jobs.
While there are serious lessons for all jewellery businesses in the story, we could not avoid a wry smirk when we went in search of images to accompany our artcile about the lesbian love triangle.
If the story did not already represent pennies from heaven, the sexy and flirtatious images from the Kings Jewellers website
simply added visual spice to the overall story!
Best punch up
This was easy, a no-brainer you might say!
In May, a furore erupted
over the JAA’s decision to email all retail members inviting them to join Rapnet an internet diamond trading platform “that allows diamond trade professionals to buy and sell diamonds online without commission.”
Not only did the email surprise the JAA’s supplier members, especially diamond dealers who thought it a bit rich that their own industry association would encourage local diamond buyers to source their goods from an overseas online operation rather than work with its own local members, it surprised the JAA also!
You see, JAA chief executive officer Ian Hadassin issued the email without JAA Board approval, let alone its knowledge!
Phone calls and emails quickly flew around the industry with the JAA being accused of working against its own members and even attacking diamond dealers. Some members called for a review of JAA management while others called for Hadassin’s head.
With the uproar getting worse, Hadassin issued a clarification and “personally apologised” for upsetting members. A group of 11 diamond dealers met
and called on Hadassin to explain his actions and issued an open letter to the jewellery industry.
The emails and phone calls continued for some weeks afterwards while the JAA tried to quell the fallout from Hadassin’s blunder.
However, if the JAA had already kicked an own-goal, its mismanagement of the furore was like shooting itself in the foot.
On 16 May, the JAA sent an email exclusively to supplier members advising, “We are aware that the email sent to members regarding the Rapnet service has caused some concern to you, and to other diamond merchants. In light of what has taken place the JAA Board has decided to investigate how it can be restructured so as to be more representative of the industry as a whole. The JAA is also arranging for a two-page article in the August edition of Jeweller magazine, promoting the local loose diamond industry. JAA members who sell loose diamonds will be featured at no cost. We will be in contact with further details shortly, and look forward to your participation.”
The two-page article was never published and, in fact, Jeweller was unaware of the JAA’s offer until a supplier phoned the magazine, saying, “When they [JAA] contact me about my membership next year I’ll tell them to look for my cheque in the same place as their two-page diamond story!”
Result: Miss … by a long, long way!
I’ve been wondering whether 2012 will go down as the year the most diamonds were eaten!
I mean, I know carrots are healthy but for some reason there seemed to be a spate of people swallowing diamonds either to steal them
or smuggle them.
In November, we reported on a Lebanese man who swallowed 220 diamonds
and then tried to get on a flight from South Africa to Dubai.
I guess it was just as well for the flight staff that he didn’t board and was nabbed by the police because, from what I heard, he ordered a vegetarian curry for his in-flight meal!
Throughout 2012 Jeweller showcased more than 300 new products from a wide range of jewellery and watch suppliers, both large and small. It would probably not surprise anyone to know that Pandora was still very popular among our readers.
In fact, Pandora held the top two positions
based on the number of times each story was read/viewed online across the year.
However, what I found far more interesting was that of the Top 10 products, five were what you might call “smaller brands”.
That is, you’d expect the most popular products to include international brands like Pandora, Guess and Ice-Watch but not necessarily for them to be “outdone” by local brands like Uberkate or PW Beck.
Uberkate came in at the Number 3
most popular new product for 2012, which I am sure the company’s designer, Kate Sutton, would be most happy with. And while “reads” of a new product story might not automatically translate to success at the cash register it’s probably no coincide that Sutton says she had an excellent year.
The variety across the rest of the list highlights the broad tastes of our readers, with fashion watches, diamond rings and animal pendants all generating much interest.
Weird and crazy stuff
I have written before about how I come across lots of weird and whacky things. We also receive some crazy stuff, witness last year’s video where someone thought that a great way to promote a jewellery brand was to douse a beautiful woman in petrol and set her alight!
As the leading jewellery industry magazine we must always maintain our credibility, so we don’t cover much of the guff, drivel and crazy stuff.
And with the advent of social media like Facebook and Twitter, marketing messages are spread wider and faster. Jeweller is quite active on social media, especially Facebook, so we get to keep an eye on other jewellery retailers’ and suppliers’ activities, too.
We also know what it takes to build and increase your Facebook fan base. So it was with some amusement that we noticed that Ellani Collections suddenly gained around 1,000 new fans … in a single week in September.
The sudden spike took Ellani’s Facebook page from around 700 fans to more than 1,700 and just as quickly as it rose it plateaued again. In the ensuing three months it gained a mere 30 fans.
Now, it’s not unusual to suddenly gain a lot of fans – even 1,000 - if you run a competition or promotion, but what was most intriguing was the Australian jewellery supplier's Facebook page suddenly became very popular among 18-24 year-olds in ... Dhaka, Bangladesh!
That's crazy, right? Or, maybe it’s really not that weird after all; who knows, “ellani” might mean “just lucky” in Bengali.
Result: Hit (in Bangladesh)
A good number
While on the subject of Facebook and numbers, Status Accessories has worked very hard to get its 1,638 Facebook fans
. By using various online promotions, competitions and its own rewards program along with Facebook advertising, the business has gained an active online following.
However, that’s not why Status Accessories deserves a mention in our annual Hits and Misses wrap up.
We could just as easily have listed the business under “Weird and crazy stuff” after all, you would have to be crazy to open five jewellery outlets in seven months let alone undertake the project as a start-up in what, many people say, is the most difficult retail climate in 50 years, right?
No, Jeff Burnes, the man behind Status’ bold move, knew that it would not be an easy exercise given all the doom and gloom about the state of Australian retailing. He told Jeweller
in February that he had plans for 12 stores nationally
and would open three Sydney stores in 2012 and another five in 2013.
Given that five Sydney outlets have been opened since May this year, he is a little ahead of schedule.
Of course, just because something exists doesn’t mean it’s profitable, and only time will tell whether the high-tech retail operation reaches its aims. However, on early reports the new style retail operation seems to be shaking things up!
Where are they now?
Hopefully a lot of them are in jail!
Maybe it was just because we reported on a lot more jewellery robberies in 2012, or maybe there was actually far more than normal, but it did seem that every week another jewellery store or supplier sales rep was being robbed.
Some of the crooks were captured (by police) throughout the year and we can only hope that they are spending their Christmas behind bars.
Wouldn’t it be funny if the guy on the motorcycle found himself in the same cell as the guy who swallowed the diamonds?
FINAL PONDER THIS
Now, if you have read this far, then you need a special treat to end the year. This should bring a smile to your face, well at least the men will grimace and the women should smile! Watch how a canny Scotsman proposed but be warned
, don’t watch it if you’re easily offended.
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