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What can retailers and suppliers expect from the two Sydney jewellery trade shows that will take place next month, and more importantly, can the jewellery industry support two fairs on the same weekend in the same city?
What can retailers and suppliers expect from the two Sydney jewellery trade shows that will take place next month, and more importantly, can the jewellery industry support two fairs on the same weekend in the same city?

Jewellery Trade Shows I: The facts and figures without puffery

In just a few short weeks, the Australian jewellery industry will face an important question. It’s a question that has not only loomed large for the past 12 months but has been asked many times before.

What can retailers and suppliers expect from the two Sydney jewellery trade shows that will take place in mid-August, and more importantly, can the jewellery industry support two fairs on the same weekend in the same city?

This is a serious question because of its impact on suppliers, retailers, and the broader industry. As such, it warrants a thorough analysis.

More importantly, it must be answered as objectively as possible and without the possibility of misleading ‘spin’ and puffery from event organisers.

Long-time readers of Jeweller will know that this is not the first time the industry has faced a dilemma of this nature. Two fairs, hosted in the same city at the same time, has been attempted many times in the past.

Once again, this concept will be tested in mid-August, and the current data paints a less-than-optimistic picture.

Indeed, research shows that suppliers are being compelled to make a clear-cut decision – which of the two fairs to support – in an arrangement that appears to offer little to no additional benefits to them or retailers.

Basics & Background

The ‘traditional’ International Jewellery Fair will be held over three days from Saturday, 17 August, to Monday, 19 August. Expertise Events has organised this fair for the past 30 years.

It is held at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Sydney’s Darling Harbour precinct.

The International Jewellery Fair in 2023 ran on the same weekend last year (19-21 August) and attracted 150 exhibitors*.

Gary Fitz-Roy is the managing director of Expertise Events. In addition to the premier show in Sydney, the company also runs two smaller, boutique-style trade shows in Melbourne (February) and Gold Coast (April).

The second and alternative Sydney event is the Jewellery Industry Fair, which is scheduled for the same weekend as the International Jewellery Fair this year, but for only two days: Saturday, 17 August, to Sunday, 18 August.

Long-time readers of Jeweller will know that this is not the first time the industry has faced a dilemma of this nature.

The Jewellery Industry Fair is in its second year. The venue is Carriageworks, part of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops built in 1880, about a 15-30 minute drive from Sydney CBD.

It’s worth noting that the dates of the inaugural Jewellery Industry Fair event in 2023 did not clash with the International Jewellery Fair dates.

That is, the three-day Carriageworks show was held one week after the Darling Harbour event — from Saturday, 26 August, to Monday, 28 August.

Therefore, this year's Jewellery Industry Fair dates have been moved to coincide with the International Jewellery Fair dates; however, the 2024 event has been reduced from three days to two.

The Jewellery Industry Fair is organised by Laura Moore and Andy Phanthapangna. It is part of a maze-like array of companies surrounding the Jewellery Industry Network, which claims to be "Australia's largest network of jewellers.”

The company's reasoning behind this claim is unclear. The inaugural Sydney show featured around 53 exhibitors*. (See Methodology & Maths in Part II)

Jewellery Industry Network also runs a smaller, boutique-style show in Melbourne in March.

Comparisons & Context

A number of suppliers exhibited at both events in 2023 because the two shows were a week apart.

The two events benefited from unique advantages. The inaugural Jewellery Industry Fair had ‘curiosity’ value as a new event, while the International Jewellery Fair undoubtedly benefited from its 30-year association with the industry.

However, this year, the Jewellery Industry Fair forced suppliers to choose one fair or the other by shifting its dates to clash with the International Jewellery Fair dates. 

Has this strategy achieved the outcome Moore and Phanthapangna had hoped?

Jeweller captured the exhibitor list website pages of both fairs at 5pm on Monday, 24 June. The ‘statistics’ offer an intriguing insight into this question.

Seven weeks out, the International Jewellery Fair website listed 134 jewellery suppliers, while the exhibitor list on the Jewellery Industry Fair website on the same day showed 25 suppliers.

While Jeweller understands that the current ‘roster’ of exhibitors appearing at both trade events may change as the fair dates draw near - late bookings may occur - it must be assumed that both organisers keep their websites updated.

For this reason, the comparison of the two events is done on the same day and on a like-for-like basis, comparing genuine industry suppliers in the exhibitor count.

However, the data shows that last-minute ‘wheeling and dealing’ does not breed loyalty — very few of these latecomers had rebooked by 24 June.

That said, at the time of publication, it appears that the Jewellery Industry Fair has struggled to secure rebookings from the first year to the second.

Of particular note is that 38 of the 53 exhibitors (around 70 per cent) from last year’s Jewellery Industry Fair have not rebooked in 2024 - or at least they do not appear on the event’s website seven weeks out from this year's show.

It would appear that, having been forced to choose between the two events, more than 10 companies that previously exhibited at the Jewellery Industry Fair are now booked at the International Jewellery Fair in 2024.

Based on current data, Moore and Phanthapangna’s strategy of dividing suppliers by creating a clash of dates has not fared well.

Said another way, when presented with a choice between two shows on the same days in the same city, most suppliers have not chosen in favour of the Jewellery Industry Fair.

For the suppliers who opted to exhibit at both events last year, almost all have chosen the Expertise Events fair at Darling Harbour over the Jewellery Industry Network show at Carriageworks.

Furthermore, some suppliers that exhibited exclusively at the Jewellery Industry Fair last year have not re-booked and, in some cases, have booked at the International Jewellery Fair. This has also contributed to declining participation at the Jewellery Industry Network show.

It must be emphasised that both shows will most likely increase their numbers with late bookings, as happened last year with the Jewellery Industry Fair listing a number of last-minute exhibitors as it attempted to fill space.

However, the data shows that last-minute ‘wheeling and dealing’ does not breed loyalty — very few of these latecomers had rebooked by 24 June.

It also should be noted that this analysis only counts exhibitors as a single ‘booking’; neither the size nor quality of the stand - nor the industry prominence of the company and its products - have been factored into this research.

That is, the size of each event in terms of floor space is not compared; one exhibitor could have a 3X3, 6X6, or 3X9 stand. Only the number of suppliers, as exhibitors, is being considered.

As indicated above, and removing from the count of non-jewellery suppliers, the current comparison sits at 134 for the International Jewellery Fair and 25 for the Jewellery Industry Fair.

<a href="https://www.jewellermagazine.com/Img/156018/" target="_blank">The above data was taken at 5pm on 24 June</a>, and is provided as a like-for-like comparison of genuine jewellery supplier exhibitors, excluding industry associations and director related companies listed as exhibitors.
The above data was taken at 5pm on 24 June, and is provided as a like-for-like comparison of genuine jewellery supplier exhibitors, excluding industry associations and director related companies listed as exhibitors.

Court Cases & Corrections

This time last year - around two months before the 2023 events - Moore and Phanthapangna found themselves embroiled in a Federal Court legal battle with Expertise Events over misleading or deceptive advertising for their first show.

The matter arose in May 2022 after the Jewellery Industry Network published a brochure promoting its August 2023 jewellery fair.

The brochure contained several statements that appeared to be either misleading or deceptive, including references to jewellery buying groups.

Background reading: More questions raised about Jewellery Industry Network

Federal Court of Australia records listed the matter in September 2022, and following more than 12 months of legal dispute – which included the chance of the directors of the Jewellery Industry Network being found to have misled or deceived under Australian Consumer Law - the matter was settled out of court.

On 26 July 2023 - only one month before the inaugural show - Moore issued a statement correcting and/or clarifying a number of misleading claims and information about her fair.

It is estimated that the Federal Court legal dispute cost Moore and Phanthapangna between $80,000 and $100,000.

The two events eventually went ahead, albeit one week apart, following the out-of-court settlement.

Disapproval & Disharmony

Why is this an important question for the Australian jewellery industry, aside from forcing suppliers to make a decision that need not be made?

"Does anyone spare a thought for the retailers and exhibitors who travel long distances to attend these events?"
Ross Paterson, Former JAA President

As mentioned, this is not the first time the scenario has been presented to the industry.

In April 2023, former Jewellers Association of Australia (JAA) president Ross Paterson lamented the re-emergence of this debate and warned of the consequences.

Paterson outlined the challenges two fairs presented for people travelling long distances to participate in industry gatherings.

“Why is the second fair needed, and who does it benefit?” he asked, continuing, “Does anyone spare a thought for the retailers and exhibitors who travel long distances to attend these events?”

“For those outside of Sydney, it’s already a significant investment, with costs associated with travel, accommodation, and staff, among others – all quickly adding up.

“And how about the exhibitors – should they be expected to pay to attend both fairs? What about the buying groups? Do they need a second fair?”

Paterson asked an important question: Who benefits from a second jewellery fair?

He also questioned the JAA’s role in supporting the emergence of a rival fair.

“The JAA is supporting an unproven second fair, rather than the fair that the association not only jointly started, but it also helped to build into a successful event for the wider jewellery trade,” he said.

“As a former president, I think it’s a terrible waste of resources having two fairs now and worse; there is no longer an association of note to try and fix it.”

The analysis of the two upcoming jewellery fairs will continue in Part II.
 

More reading
Blast from the past: More questions raised about Jewellery Industry Network
Jewellery Industry Network: Moore moves to correct misleading trade fair statements
Correction: Jewellery Industry Network directors have resigned
International Jewellery Fair: Change is inevitable, progress is optional

 











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