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JAA’s perfect storm: Nationwide quits association

The JAA is facing a perfect storm following its latest announcement that has cast, what can only be described as, extraordinary aspersions on a former board member.

This latest episode follows the decision by Nationwide Jewellers and Leading Edge Jewellers to not support the Jewellers Association of Australia's (JAA) new tradeshow, created to compete with the 25-year-old Australian jewellery fair owned by Expertise Events.

Colin Pocklington, Nationwide Jewellers managing director
Colin Pocklington, Nationwide Jewellers managing director
In a media release issued on Thursday 29 September and titled ‘JAA Board replies to resignation of director’, JAA officials alleged a “further conflict of interest” by Nationwide Jewellers managing director Colin Pocklington.

Not only did Nationwide immediately brief its lawyers, Pocklington declared that Australasia’s largest buying group, with more than 400 members, would quit the JAA after a continuous 25-year membership.

The JAA’s ongoing dispute will have additional ramifications for the industry association because it’s believed that as many as 100 members of the independent buying group are also members of the JAA, and it’s likely that most, if not all, will also resign from the JAA as matters play-out over the coming months.

The JAA’s two-page statement, issued by JAA executive director Amanda Hunter, Selwyn Brandt, JAA president and vice president Laura Sawade, attempted to provide background to Pocklington’s decision not to support a board proposal to create a new – JAA owned – jewellery tradeshow.

The JAA offered its own interpretation for Pocklington’s abstention and also raised an issue about a 2012 proposal by Nationwide Travel in an industry with no connection to the jewellery industry.

Following legal advice, Nationwide responded to the JAA’s allegations and issued a statement to its members and suppliers the following day (Friday 30 September) titled ‘JAA email factually incorrect’.

Laura Sawade, JAA vice president
Laura Sawade, JAA vice president
The statement read, “Many of you may have seen the email newsletter sent out by the JAA yesterday titled “JAA Board replies to resignation of director” and said the JAA letter was factually incorrect.

“It [JAA] states that Colin Pocklington abstained from voting on the JAA Tradeshow issue [at the JAA board meeting] due to ‘benefits received by Nationwide Jewellers in relation to their involvement in the Expertise Events managed jewellery fairs’. This is not true. In abstaining, Colin Pocklington made it clear that the reason for abstaining from the vote was that Nationwide Jewellers delivers a significant commercial benefit to the fair”, the statement explained.

Conflict of interest

The JAA’s media release was referring to an earlier report by Jeweller where Pocklington explained that his position as a JAA board member created a number of conflicts of interest.

He had previously explained that Nationwide brought a great deal of commercial value to a trade fair – whether it be the Expertise Events or the JAA fair. That is, unlike Leading Edge and Showcase Jewellers, which both conduct buying days before the Sydney jewellery fair, Nationwide’s buying is done with exhibitors at the trade show, which greatly assists the success of the event for exhibitors and the organiser.

Hunter, Brandt, and Sawade have been the main drivers and promoters of the new JAA Jewellery Tradeshow – which has caused a massive division in the local industry because suppliers have to choose between two trade events in separate locations on the same days – and their media release made allegations that implied improper conduct by Nationwide Travel, of which Pocklington is also a director.

While Jeweller is not prepared to re-publish the JAA’s commentary on legal advice, in the interests of transparency we note the bizarre allegations also involve this publication.

It should also be noted that Jewellery World was quick to publish the JAA media statement in its entirety on Friday – including the potentially defamatory remarks – however, it has since been removed from the Jewellery World website after threats of legal action.

Amanda Hunter, JAA executive director
Amanda Hunter, JAA executive director
Suffice to say, Nationwide’s email to members denies any wrong doing “in relation to Colin Pocklington’s role as a director of the JAA, then or now” and explains, “Our lawyer will be writing to the JAA seeking a public correction of their statement”.

The email goes on to state, “Nationwide Jewellers are saddened and disappointed that the JAA has chosen to make this unsubstantiated and unprofessional personal attack on Nationwide Jewellers’ managing director, Colin Pocklington … these actions by the JAA are the result of their disappointment that Nationwide has chosen to participate at the [Expertise Events] Darling Harbour fair.”

It also reiterated that the decision not to throw its support behind the JAA’s new fair “followed a detailed analysis, member and supplier surveys and site inspections. It was clear that the vast majority of our members and our suppliers preferred the Darling Harbour venue, as by far the most suitable venue for a jewellery fair.”

The JAA’s allegations against Pocklington, a longtime supporter of the industry association, are in stark contrast to Brandt’s glowing comments only two weeks ago.

“The board acknowledges Colin’s commitment to the Australian jewellery industry over many years and his dedication in shaping the JAA,” Brandt said. “The board is highly respectful of the very positive contribution Colin has made to the JAA and the broader industry over a long period.

“We are most grateful for the valuable advice, expertise and the considerable amount of time Colin has generously given, considering that board directors volunteer their time without pay. Also we are mindful of the positive impact he has on the whole jewellery industry through the creation and growth of Nationwide Jewellers.”

Apology and retraction

This latest public relations disaster for the JAA follows Jewellery World’s public apology to Expertise Events and managing director Gary Fitz-Roy and withdrawal and retraction of an article published in the magazine's July issue in support of the new JAA trade show.

Jewellery World director Jeremy Keight has unreservedly apologised for “misleading and untrue” statements against Fitz-Roy and Expertise Events.

The magazine’s three-page strike at Expertise Events and the Sydney International Jewellery Fair (IJF) was interesting given that Jewellery World has twice attempted to launch its own trade fair – in 2007 and 2012 – to compete against the JAA and Expertise Events.

In an ironic twist, the then JAA president Peter Beever told Jeweller in 2011 he was not confident that the industry could support a second tradeshow at the same time as the Darling Harbour event.

In what can only be described as a severe embarrassment to Hunter and the JAA, and contrary to what he published, Keight has now acknowledged that Expertise Events owns the 25-year-old tradeshow and “has been successfully conducting the Fair since 1992.”


Suppliers shift camp

The JAA’s problems don’t stop there; since reporting on 16 September that a number of suppliers who, having committed to the JAA event, have now switched camps and booked for the Darling Harbour fair, many more suppliers have subsequently told Jeweller that because of the uncertainty caused by the JAA they will be supporting Nationwide and Leading Edge by exhibiting at Darling Harbour.

Worse, several suppliers have now stated that they will not be renewing their JAA membership next year.

In addition, the recent JAA’s promotional campaign has upset a number of suppliers – some were surprised to find their names on a JAA email that listed them as “supporting” the Jewellery Tradeshow. They told Jeweller the email implied they would be exhibiting even though they had not booked a stand and had not given a commitment to the JAA show.

Selwyn Brandt, JAA president
Selwyn Brandt, JAA president
When contacted about this, JAA vice president Laura Sawade said all businesses listed on the 5 September email gave their permission to be indentified; however, a number of suppliers reject that claim saying they did not give permission and knew nothing about the JAA email.

Ironically, Sawade, who is also marketing manager of Peter W Beck and has actively promoted and sold space for the JAA Jewellery Tradeshow, has not ruled out Peter W Beck exhibiting at the Expertise Events fair, further enhancing the JAA’s ‘perfect storm’.

The high-profile supplier has exhibited at the Sydney IJF for 25 years and Sawade said that while there was no booking with Expertise Events, “It’s yet to be determined” whether Peter W Beck will exhibit at Darling Harbour next year.

Sawade also explained that she often wore two ‘hats’ and when wearing her JAA hat she “works with the industry in mind and when working with Peter W Beck, it’s with Peter W Beck in mind and the two things are very separate.”

However, in another paradoxical twist, this has meant Sawade has been confronted with her own conflict of interest, choosing between her volunteer position with the JAA and her employer.

Peter W Beck is a longtime preferred supplier to Nationwide Jewellers, and, the very customer Sawade, as JAA vice president, issued the media release making, what Nationwide says, is an “unsubstantiated and unprofessional personal attack on [our] managing director, Colin Pocklington.”

Sawade’s involvement with, and the resulting fall-out from, the JAA media release may well have ramifications for business between Peter W Beck and Nationwide, and its 400 members. 

It only seems like yesterday that Hunter “proudly announced a new industry fair run by the industry for the industry”.

In late May she declared, “The JAA’s aim is to create an industry event that has a collaborative, positive approach, in which all sectors of the industry and stakeholders can enjoy participating in and we, the industry, can be proud of.
I am excited to use my prior event management experience to benefit the jewellery industry ...”.

The perfect storm continues, as Nationwide has not ruled out further legal action against the JAA.

More reading
More industry division over two jewellery fairs 
Nationwide, Leading Edge make 2017 jewellery fair decision
Jewellery World Show cancelled?

 

FEEDBACK


SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

I refer to your article entitled “JAA’s perfect storm; Nationwide quits association” and would like to set the record straight about Nationwide’s decision for the 2017 jewellery fair.

I have worked in the jewellery industry for over 55 years. For a good part of that time I was heavily involved with the JAA, first representing Prouds Jewellers and then Nationwide Jewellers. I served on the NSW and Federal committees and I firmly believed that if you work in an industry you should give something back to that industry.

The recent personal attacks by the JAA board on Colin Pocklington, my fellow director of Nationwide Jewellers, has left me bewildered and repulsed. I have known Colin for approximately forty years and never in that time has his integrity or honesty been questioned on a professional or personal level.

Colin is the recipient of the Australian Sport Medal presented by the Prime Minister and Governor General for Services to Tennis, he is a life member of the JAA, a FCPA for forty years and a Justice of the Peace. In his many roles within the JAA he has at all times acted in the best interest of that association.

These recent attacks on Colin stem from our decision to participate in the Darling Harbour jewellery fair managed by Expertise Events, rather than the new fair being organised by the JAA.

The truth behind our decision
Colin and I were in a difficult position, we wanted to support the JAA but also wanted to offer Nationwide Members the very best trade fair experience. Both the JAA and Expertise made us the same offer for floor space and associated costs. We toured both venues, the brand new state of the art Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour and the other, consisting of The Hall of Industries and the Horden Pavilion located in what used to be the Sydney Showground in Moore Park.

One venue is close to hotels and the restaurant precinct of Darling Harbour, the other is a bus or taxi ride from any hotel and, with very few restaurants close at hand. We considered our members travelling from interstate and New Zealand who like to enjoy the Sydney sunshine and meet colleagues and friends for lunch and to be able to walk to their hotel whenever they wish to leave the trade fair.

We surveyed members and suppliers and arranged for three senior Nationwide staff to tour the Showgrounds facility. We also considered that 2017 will be the first JAA trade fair BUT we have successfully participated at the Expertise Event’s trade fair for over 20 years so the question for us was should we change our successful formula for what is and unknown and untried event?

Our decision became a simple one. We decided to listen to our members and suppliers, and stay with the Darling Harbour trade fair and to see how the first JAA event worked. None of our suppliers would be disadvantaged as we would make our interest free finance available to members to use at both events but our members’ lounge would be in Darling Harbour.

We could always change the following year if member, suppliers and Nationwide thought it was the better event. Our process and decision was well considered and yet we have had scurrilous, unsubstantiated and untrue personal attacks on Colin Pocklington and the Nationwide Group by the JAA.

These actions have now put an end to our long history and support of the JAA and any future cooperation between Nationwide and the JAA, at least as long as the present board and executive director are in place.

Barry Jackson
Sydney, NSW


Read full letter here

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UNPROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOUR

As a jewellery supplier, I am disgusted with the unprofessional behaviour of the current JAA Executive Director and Board.

The damage inflicted on the Australian jewellery industry in these current difficult trading times by the JAA’s actions may never be able to be repaired. If it can then the healing must start immediately.

I believe the only way for this terrible situation to be resolved is for the Executive Director and Board to resign immediately.

Name withheld by request

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JAA JEWELLERY SHOW

What is wrong with the JAA? This has been a disaster from the start. Does anyone really think the JAA can run an international jewellery show? They had 2 years to organise the jewellery design awards and they couldn’t even do that. They were cancelled this year and they want to run a huge jewellery show in less than 1 year.

You’re kidding. The only thing they are good at is losing members!

Rick Brown
Sydney, NSW


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SHAME

I support the decision made by Nationwide 100%. I also support and trust Colin 100%.  It is a shame that the current board of the JAA have decided to attack Colin and therefore Nationwide members in this manner. Perhaps a change of board is in order.

Lynne Meier
Images of Kyneton
Fine Jewellers
Kynteon, Victoria

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SUPPORT

Good on you Barry. Angeline and I support you and Colin 100%

Stuart Mc Lean
Underwood Jewellers
Buddina, Queensland


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THAT SINKING FEELING

Bloody hell this is like a spaghetti western!

I resigned from the JAA after more than 30 years as a member. I have had my own problems with the JAA that I have raised with Amanda Hunter and exchanged emails outlining my issues which included credit card fees, the overcharging for repair packets, higher insurance quotes, the JAA’s flawed customer complaints process but Amanda didn’t want to hear any of it.

I had some involvement with two consumer complaint cases earlier this year and in my opinion the standard of complaint handling, which in the past was exemplary, has dropped. I viewed that process as one of the important benefits of both membership and the JAA’s main purpose, but not any more.

And now the JAA is fighting with their own members and trying to compete with their supporting partners like Expertise Events – it all adds up to wasted efforts and a poor service provision for members.

Trying to run a trade fair in competition to a specialist exhibition business is an interesting use, or misuse, of member funds. And there has been no mention of loss of revenue from existing show Vs cost of going alone.

So I have no issue justifying my resignation from the JAA earlier this year.

I told Amanda and the JAA that I had not resigned because I am going broke or can’t afford it and when I complain about JAA costs and services  – it is what I see as a matter of principle.

I wrote to Amanda in May and said that if good people are jumping into the lifeboats, then the first leadership challenge is to listen to the criticisms and make a new plan.

I also told her that it might be a good idea to “water proof” her own CV?

I hope she took my advice because it looks like the Titanic is about to sink and, the sad thing is, that that might not be a bad thing.

Maybe the JAA board should resign before the Phoenix takes flight!

Garry Holloway
Camberwell, Victoria

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RESIGNED FROM JAA

I have received and read the Jeweller newsletter (awesome as always) and Barry Jackson’s letter (also fabulous).

As an industry supplier, Fabuleux Vous fully supports Nationwide and expresses disappointment for the unprofessional, unnecessary behaviour and attitude towards both Colin Pocklington and Nationwide as a group.

Our beautiful industry has bigger and better challenges now, and ahead, than to be consumed by this ridiculous behaviour.

What a shame the JAA doesn’t spend their time and energy adding value to the jewellery industry, to jewellery retailers and supporting suppliers instead of wanting to be an “event company” and slag those off people such as Colin who is known and respected for his outstanding contribution to the industry and to the community! 

Colin is without question a man of integrity, professionalism and equity. He has our utmost respect and support. I have expressed my concerns directly with the JAA’s Amanda Hunter.

We will no longer support the JAA with membership.

Helen Thompson-Carter
Director
Fabuleux Vous
Auckland, NZ


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RESIGNED FROM JAA

As a Nationwide member, I am very disappointed with the JAA’s unprofessional attack on Colin Pocklington and Nationwide Jewellers so I have now resigned our membership. Nationwide has acted very professionally in looking after its members' interests.

Nick Hill
Alice Springs, NT

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NO FAVOURS

Well said, all sounds like sour grapes on behalf of the JAA who are doing themselves no favours by acting like children.

Andrew
Westende Jewellers
Christchurch, NZ

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13 YEARS AGO

Nationwide and yourselves have my total support.
I disassociated myself from JAA some 13 years ago never to return.

Tony Peters
Exquisite Jewellers
Holt, ACT

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CHEAP AND NASTY

Have been following this and I must say that being a member of JAA I feel disgusted. Their tactics are cheap and nasty. Nationwide has our support 100%.

Romil Patel
Jewels Fiji
Nadi Town, Fiji

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UNPROFESSIONAL ACTIONS

I am amazed at the unprofessional actions of the JAA but it does not surprise me at all. I have always wanted to support an industry representative body but I could never ever join such an organisation. I know Barry Jackson and Colin Pocklington have been involved with the JAA for a long time donating their time and expertise so this attack on Colin is so unfair.

As I said, I’m not surprised, I have looked at some of their marketing in the past and to me it seemed more like bullying rather than respect. To me it seems obvious that they think they deserve to run our industry like a union instead of an industry body. I remember a campaign that seemed more like a threat to me. I got an e-mail asking me to join, to my memory it made reference to how would customers know I was trustworthy if I wasn’t a member of the JAA!

That really offended me and from that point on I decided I would never join the JAA. Recently some information came to me about a program the JAA want to get off the ground. Basically they want to sell by the year (RENT) qualifications. Who do they think they are?

They have never been part of training or assessing in the industry, especially trade skills!

The most frustrating part was “renting” the qualification “Master Jeweller”. What gives them the right? It will lower the real trade qualifications that people like me have strived hard to attain. There has never been such a qualification issued in Australia and for the JAA to offer it to its members for a yearly subscription fee is simply offensive!

I was so upset by this that that I contacted the ACCC who said they would look into it.

I feel the JAA is a divisive not inclusive influence, and I think they may have committed 'suicide' by this attack on Colin, someone who is such an honest considered person and I stand with him and Nationwide in their stance against this unprovoked and obviously flawed attack.

I wish Colin well and hope this hasn’t rattled him too much. I know how much the Nationwide members respect him and will stand with him.

Tim Haab
Haab Designer Jewellers
Launceston, TAS


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PREFERRED FAIR

We have been members of Nationwide for 8 years and have found all staff and directors totally in support of the industry in total. Nationwide wanted to support the fair its members would support , and the main choice was Darling Harbour .

So Nationwide is supporting its members, it has nothing to do with not supporting the JAA. Colin has always been a very fair person and we will always support him and Nationwide in every way just as he always has held the JAA in high regard.        
  
Lisa Zarewicz
J. Gem Investment Jeweller
Sunbury, VIC

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RESPECT AND DECORUM

It is always a shame when people forget to try and resolve matters with respect and decorum especially when it involves someone of Colin's stature who has been around the jewellery industry for the length of time that he has and he conducts himself in a respectful and honest manner at all times.

Unfortunately, the JAA might not have realised the extent of the problem they have created and might get a shock if many members start cancelling their memberships. The old saying what goes around, comes around, could never be truer or more relevant in this matter.

Chantell'e
Greg Bartlett Jeweller
Adelaide, SA

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HIGHEST REGARD

We have been members of Nationwide for some time and have had dealings with nearly all the Nationwide staff, as well as Barry and Colin. We have the highest regard for Colin, and any other person or group could never change our mind.
Nationwide has our unquestionable support.

Wayne
Dwayne Designs
Doncaster, VIC




















Monday, 20 February, 2017 08:01am
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