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Sydney fair 20 years on

Despite tough economic times and the murmur of uncertainty surrounding the Sydney fair, the 2011 edition proved that the show must go on. Deborah Goon reports.

With a 20-year history preceding it, the 2011 International Jewellery Fair (IJF) in Sydney certainly opened with the kind of anticipation one would expect from the country’s leading jewellery trade show – visitors hoping to beat the lines were greeted by a lengthy queue trailing vermicularly through the surrounds of the Darling Harbour Exhibition Centre.

It was an early sign that there was much buzz about this year’s fair and, as the doors opened, the early birds raced into the main hall, stopping only to pick up a showbag and a trade fair directory. It was clear these retailers meant business.

Even though visitor attendance softened by 6.5 per cent from 2010, the more 6,000 visitors who graced the three-day IJF were definitely in a buying mood, much to the delight of the 250 enthusiastic exhibitors. “We had a really good fair this year,” beamed Georgini’s national sales manager, Marissa Gouras, “so we are really happy about that.”

Exhibiting at the fair for the second time this year, The Ring Box Company director Nicolette Jones was also very pleased with the response: “Our sales were up on last year, and we had a nice balance of existing customers and new ones.”

Jones added that Sunday was the busiest day for The Ring Box Company with most of its sales made on the first day of the fair.

Bartholomew Kacev, NSW state manager of Skagen distributor Jarass, also acknowledged that it had a very busy time at the 2011 fair.

“The results were very positive, showing substantial growth on last year’s figures for both orders and new accounts from the trade fair. Sunday was the busiest day but the flow of people at our stand was steady for all three days,” Kacev said.

Fellow exhibitor Ayres’s national sales manager Paul Chaston commented that despite tough trading conditions, the fair was very successful. “It is still a very tough period in the industry,” he said, “but it was pleasing to see the extra effort a lot of exhibitors had gone to spark things up – and those that visited were not all talking doom and gloom.”

Kacev agreed that exhibitors went the extra mile this time and added, “There were some pretty impressive stands this year, and the overall “world class” feel of the event was increased due to the effort that was put in by these exhibitors.”

It wasn’t just the exhibitors that were pleased with the positive response though. Andreas Efthivoulou, director of Ridge Jewellers in Queensland noticed that this year’s fair was somewhat different compared to last year: “This Sydney fair had a lot more silver product because of the price of gold being so high. It was good to see so many new suppliers and new products on show.”

Catwalk fashion parade
Catwalk fashion parade

Efthivoulou, who has visited the fair faithfully for the last decade, believes the IJF is the perfect place to search for new suppliers and new products in one convenient location. “I’m always looking for something different as I have two stores and prefer to keep the product offering as varied as possible,” he said, adding that the fair proved to be a great success for Ridge Jewellers, allowing him to purchase stock from three new suppliers.

On top of that, Efthivoulou won the $20,000 product package giveaway, sponsored by Expertise Events and Peter W Beck. Needless to say, this is one happy camper looking forward to the Brisbane fair.

Fashion shows

This year’s fair saw the introduction of a new initiative called Collection Preview Live, a series of daily, 15-minute fashion shows that featured professional models wearing various watch and jewellery items from around the fair. The catwalks offered exhibitors a new and interactive way to showcase their product.

“We are making plans to feature the Collection Preview Live as an annual event and move into the main floor area so that it becomes a prominent feature for visitors,” said Gary Fitz-Roy, director of fair organiser Expertise Events.

Peter Molnar, importer of Antonio Ben Chimol products, was quick to compliment the fashion parade saying it looked spectacular. “This is our first time exhibiting in Sydney so having our core products in the show helps to establish our brand name,” Molnar added.

Molnar’s stand was right where the fashion parade was staged so he was privileged enough to have a good view of the parade every day.

Alexandria Thomaschuetz, from Jacques Lemans watch importer Stat Australia Imports, agreed with Molnar that the show was good for brand awareness.

“It definitely was a good way to showcase different looks in various collections and it was well organised,” she said. Pandora also arranged its own exclusive fashion parade on all three days.

Standing ovations

Among the various awards and accolades given out at the fair each year, Expertise Events recognises two exhibitors with awards for Best Large Stand and Best Small Stand. Peter W Beck was the standout this year, winning Best Large Stand, while the Best Small Stand award went to Lady Schmuck.

In other official business, each buying group conducted annual meetings, award dinners and presented their Supplier of the Year and Member of the Year awards at the fair.

Nationwide Jewellers

Nationwide Jewellers announced Mark McAskill and Citizen Watches NZ as Suppliers of the Year in Australian and New Zealand respectively. South Australia-based Mark McAskill credited the win to the incredible customer service his team continues to provide.

Catwalk fashion parade
Catwalk fashion parade

“This is a great award to win and it recognises our hard work,” he said. “We have continued to provide the best customer service we can and do as much as possible to provide our customers with exactly what they want.”

Rod Willment, marketing manager of Citizen Watches NZ, thanked Nationwide for its continued support, saying that the effort to establish Citizen in the middle-market watch brand in New Zealand was integral to its success.

“We are very proud to win this award for the second year running. Working closely with Nationwide allows us to connect with our market and help re-assess our brand and pricing strategy for middle-market watch consumers in New Zealand,” Willment said.

Nationwide’s annual member awards were taken out by Paul Ward of Paul Ward Jewellers, NSW, and Ivan and Mirium Van De Water of Van De Water Jewellers, New Zealand.

Showcase Jewellers

Across the way, Showcase Jeweller’s Supplier of the Year award was won by Pandora for the third consecutive year and Karin Adcock, president of Pandora Australia said, “We have some excellent retailers and, for us, it’s all about being available for them and helping them reach good sales figures.”

Showcase’s Member of the Year award went to Gold Coast-based Burleigh Showcase Jewellers, while its International Design Award Creative division prize was snapped up by Matthew Ely of Sydney-based York Jewellers.

The 25 year-old Penrith jeweller won the buying group’s bi-annual award, which featured entrants from across the 330 Australia and New Zealand stores. Ely’s recent prize win follows his Showcase Jewellers Award win in 2007, and a runners-up position in 2009, and his award-winning design is a dress-ring called Rose Bijou.

“It’s really amazing that Showcase recognise young jewellers, and after entering designs for six years, it’s finally relieving to win,” Ely said. Mark Brown from The Nowra Jeweller won the Practical division prize.

Leading Edge Jewellers

Leading Edge Jewellers presented three supplier awards this year with the winners for Supplier of the Year 2011 going to Pandora, Mark McAskill and Duraflex. The Member of the Year 2011 went to Regency Group, Barretts Jewellers and Andrew Ralph Diamond Jewellers.

Duraflex managing director, Phil Edwards commented, “We are very proud and honored to win such an award with the Leading Edge Group. We consider this a very prestigious award and a generous acknowledgement from the group.

He added, “We are very aware that winning such an award can only be achieved by a team effort and wish to acknowledge all our staff at DGA.”

SAMS Group Australia

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