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Articles from INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS (258 Articles)

Coleby Nicholson
Coleby Nicholson

Dangerous ideas for Kiwi jewellers

Following on from his detailed analysis of some of the challenges facing the New Zealand jewellery industry, COLEBY NICHOLSON turns his attention to a solution for a unified and cohesive industry.  
This is not a story about trade fairs, nor is it a story about Aussies versus Kiwis – though many will attempt to portray it as such. This is a story about three industry associations "warring" in a small market.
It's a situation that most sensible people should recognise as a serious problem; however, sadly, there are plenty who still don't see it that way. 
In my view, anyone who doesn’t see this turf war as a blight on the industry has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo because this is a story about the future – by my reckoning, it’s also a wasted story but please read on. Sometimes people can surprise you. 
There are three jewellery associations in New Zealand servicing a market of less than 300 independent jewellery stores. The three organisations – Jewellers Association of New Zealand (JANZ), Jewellers & Watchmakers New Zealand (JWNZ) and Jewellery Manufacturers Federation (JMF) – are in constant disagreement to the extent that they are practically at war. 
Now I know many people won't like this term but believe me, I can find no better adjective to describe what is happening. 
This story is not about taking sides because doing that would give credence to the nonsense that caused the conflict in the first place. Indeed, some of the disagreements go back so many years that one wonders how they are still remembered. 
So this tale is about the future, and only about the future, and just as this story is not about siding with any single association, it is also not about siding with any individual members of this industry, because it is members of the industry who continue to fuel the conflict today. 
To be clear and precise, the divided and fragmented Kiwi jewellery industry finds itself in this state only because of its own people – only its people can resolve this dispute, and only its own people can keep it going, further dividing and fragmenting the industry in the process. 
Now, given I’ve detailed what this story is not about, let us all agree on what it is about. 
The plot
In this story, the future paints a perfect world. Yes, I know that no such place will ever exist, but this story aims at establishing a world that is far superior to the one in which the Kiwi industry currently operates. 
In this new perfect world, the following applies: 
  • The jewellery industry has one peak industry body, which we will call New Zealand Jewellers or NZJ;  
  • NZJ works for the benefit of the entire industry;
  • Everyone within NZJ works together in a unified, cohesive and cooperative manner;
  • Rigorous debate occurs but people, personalities and egos are not deemed to be more important than the industry itself;
  • NZJ works to ensure there is no fragmentation or division in the industry;
  • Because cooperation and cohesiveness exist, NZJ is an effective promoter to consumers, as well as an effective government lobbyist. 
Now I think you’re beginning to understand the plot behind this story, right? Does anyone disagree that this situation would be an improvement upon the current situation? I would hope not because, after all, these are motherhood statements, right? 
"What’s a motherhood statement?” I hear some of you ask. It's a statement that invokes "feel good" platitudes or clichés with which few people can disagree. Do you support motherhood? Of course you do. No one can disagree with motherhood, right? 
So what happens if there are some who say they don’t agree with this story? What do we do if people think that three competing associations is a good thing and they don’t like the idea of change? Well, we’ll deal with that problem in a moment, but don’t fret and don’t despair because it's a good thing.
In this story, we want people to disagree with NZJ!
The solution
If people genuinely believe that they should strive to improve the situation in the New Zealand jewellery industry then there is a simple way to achieve it. Yes, it’s remarkably simple. 
If we agree that New Zealand Jewellers should be the sole peak industry body then: 
  • NZJ should be established, or agreed to be established;
  • All three existing associations should be dissolved, or agree to dissolve;
  • The new NZJ will have a board of seven;
  • Each of the three competing associations will have two representatives on the board;
  • An independent chairman should be appointed;
  • The  chairman should be so "independent" that he/she should have no involvement in the jewellery industry whatsoever;
  • The chairman might be a solicitor;
  • All three existing associations have an equal say on NZJ and the chairman has the casting vote;
  • The chairman is appointed for 12 months to see through the transition and, at the end of the period, the chairman can be re-appointed or an industry person can assume the role.
Now that’s a simple solution. Yes, I agree that the implementation is a little more complex, but at least there is a proposed solution. 
This proposal is so simple that some people will say they don’t like it. There are always recalcitrants and maybe it’s too simple for them – or maybe the truth is that they have a vested interest in the status quo and don’t want change. 
Well, I also have a solution for dealing with the recalcitrants: 
  • No current or former officeholders of the three existing associations can be on the board of NZJ for the first 12 months;
  • No employees of the three existing associations can have any role in NZJ;
  • We need new people with fresh ideas;
  • We need people who are unified, cooperative and act for the entire industry;
  • More importantly, we cannot allow anyone with a vested interest in the status quo to try and harm our goal of establishing a perfect world.
If there are people acting for their own, personal vested interests, it is imperative that they are isolated. If they are isolated, they cannot easily push personal agendas. 
What that means is that anyone who disagrees with the concept of NZJ is immediately isolated from any discussion about it. After all, why have someone involved in something in which they do not believe?
If my earlier observation is correct – namely, that three existing and warring associations only exist because of the egos of the "people" or "personalities" who continue the war – then disallowing current or former officeholders to be on NZJ board will remove many of the stumbling blocks for a cohesive and unified industry.
You see, if anyone who might be accused of having a vested interest in the status quo announces that they do believe in NZJ, then logically, they would happily step aside. 
In fact, if existing and former officeholders of the three existing associations support a unified industry and agree with the NZJ concept then they would not only step aside but do so joyfully and cheerfully!
This proposal removes anyone who does not support a unified and cohesive industry and also removes anyone who might have a hidden agenda or vested interests. 
Who wins?
Restructure involves change, and the aim is to create new benefits, otherwise there is no need for a restructure. Change always brings winners and losers, so who wins? Well, the entire industry would stand to benefit from the above solution, not just retailers and suppliers but undoubtedly consumers also. 
Consumers would have a direct point of contact and one association to voice their concerns and the industry can self regulate. 
A unified and harmonious industry is far more advantageous than a fragmented one.
Who loses?
In my perfect world, solutions come at a cost – there’s always a cost and, as my accountant says, there’s a credit for every debit. 
My story has two types of losers – those who lose face and those who lose out. The people who lose face will be OK. They will get over any embarrassment and might even benefit from the opportunity to show that, deep down, they always agreed with the general concept of NZJ; however, we need to be wary of anyone who might lose out. 
If there are people with a vested interest in the continuation of the current, conflicted associations, they’ll fight tooth and nail against the NZJ to maintain the status quo. Unlike the people who will lose face, those who stand to lose out have a lot at stake and need to be identified so they are quickly isolated. 
You see, the real issue at hand, and the reason three associations even exist, is because of a turf war – pure and simple! 
All turf wars are about vested interests, and the conflict in the Kiwi jewellery industry is no different. This current disunity is all about protecting vested interests; it’s about individuals, not about the industry.
The Kiwi jewellery industry needs, and deserves, people who will work for the industry. It should also, unashamedly, discard those who do the opposite. 
As I said at the beginning of this story, I don’t believe any of the above will occur. I can’t see jewellery retailers and/or suppliers who are not closely aligned with any of the three associations taking the bull by the horns to fight for the future of their own industry.
Maybe the problem is that anyone with a genuine desire to create harmony and agreement in the industry can’t be bothered fighting against those with vested interests. 
One Kiwi reminded me of the old saying, “Every country gets the government they deserve”. His view was that nothing will change and New Zealand already has the jewellery industry it deserves.  
If there are many people set to lose out from a restructuring of New Zealand's jewellery industry, then maybe it will only occur with some “muscle”. In true Gandi style, there may be a need for non-violent resistance. Pain often comes with growth.
I stated at the outset that this was not a story about two trade fairs, though it should be obvious to all that the existence of two competing trade fairs remains the catalyst that escalated this great division. Because of these fairs, the can of worms was opened.  
Perhaps the leading suppliers should consider getting together to discuss a boycott of both fairs and all associations until such time as there is a genuine attempt to unify and amalgamate the industry.
Of course, not all suppliers would join a boycott, but the ones who don’t would be the ones most likely to lose out in a restructured industry, and they would expose themselves in the process.
Even better, perhaps the two major buying groups should be the catalyst for boycotting the associations and the trade fairs too. If buyers started telling the exhibitors they’re not visiting the trade fairs, what do you think would happen?
I am not a big fan of boycotts but there may be no choice if various people and egos attempt to stand in the way of positive restructure. 
What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments and observations. Indeed, I would love to receive feedback from the three associations, but I won’t be holding my breath on that one. 
Given that all three associations have yet to disclose the number of members belonging to each of their organisations, one might start to ask, "What are they hiding?"
Don’t you agree that organisations that purport to work for the benefit of the industry should be open and transparent rather than silent and secretive? If those people within these associations actually believed in a unified industry, would they not proudly announce how many members their association has?  
A wise old man once told me, "When you open a can of worms, quite often there’s another can of worms inside!"
Consider these final observations; in 2010 most industries compete against other industries, but in New Zealand one small industry competes with itself; three associations for 300 independent jewellery retailers, is that not embarrassing?
Maybe my Kiwi colleague was correct; New Zealand already has the jewellery industry it deserves! 
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More reading

Next week

Is there more? Of course there is! Next week, I will turn my attention to exposing some of the paradoxical attitudes held by many in the Kiwi jewellery industry. Too many people want to have their cake and eat it too, hypocrisy and double standards abound, I assure you!

Coleby Nicholson • Managing Editor

Managing Editor • Jeweller Magazine

Coleby Nicholson is publisher and managing editor of Jeweller magazine. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than a decade and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

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Your Say

Yes its very embarrassing
Wow, when do we start? I for one would be right behind something like this idea. their are all sorts of crazy ideas out there like, 1 hallmark stamp for New Zealand made Jewellery so far 3 bodies cant do this? lobbing government to make GST free sales simple.
posted by Steve Haywood on October 14, 2010 09:50

Thanks Coleby for taking this NZ trade fair issue and opening it up. You make perfect sense and I hope people involved will listen and put aside any personal agenda's for the good of the industry as a whole. A united front would be very exciting.
Peter Shakes
posted by Peter Shakes on October 16, 2010 08:02

Ozzies and Kiwis
Mr Nicholson please leave us Kiwis alone. We are enjoy our self pity and we are perfectly happy being miserable. Why do you persist in trying to annoy us can’t you see we love our silly quarreling and stupid shenannagins cos it gives us things to do every day.

Kiwis must have things to complain about. We still have not forgiven the Ozzies for that under arm bowling incident of 1980 and we will never forget it and if I had my way no Ozzie jewellery company would be allowed into New Zealand because of it.

In fact if you were taller Im sure you were actually Greg Chappel.

Why is it wrong for us to have 3 assocations. We should have 17 if we want and we should we be allowed to fight and stay unhappy. In fact, I have been feeling so poorly and down in the dumps for so long I have considered ending it all. But rather than punish myself that way I think I might move back to Wellington cos I am sick of the happiness in Oz.

I might even join jmf just to complete my sorrow!

Lets have more jewellery assocations I say --- and 6 is a good round number --- and funnily enough its also the number of runs needed by Brian McKechnie off your brothers (Trevor Chappel) disgusting under arm ball. Now leave us alone and go away.
posted by Richard Tokker on October 16, 2010 11:53

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