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The JAA will conduct its own jewellery fair from 2017, ending its association with the International Jewellery Fair
The JAA will conduct its own jewellery fair from 2017, ending its association with the International Jewellery Fair

Sydney jewellery fair organiser hits back at JAA

The organiser of the International Jewellery Fair is seeking to “set the record straight” in response to the JAA’s announcement that it has ended ties with the event and will conduct its own show.

On Monday 23 May, the Jewellers Association of Australia (JAA) released an industry statement advising it would organise its own fair, the JAA Jewellery Fair, in 2017. The decision marks the end of its 25-year relationship with International Jewellery Fair (IJF) organiser Expertise Events.

“This landmark announcement is being delivered amidst great excitement after detailed research, analysis and discussion by the JAA board and executive director,” the statement read. “The event must meet the needs of the industry into the future, so this is exactly what the JAA is setting out to achieve.”

According to the release, the JAA Jewellery Fair will be held at the Royal Hall of Industries within the Moore Park Precinct in Sydney and will take place from 26–28 August – the same dates scheduled for the 2017 IJF at the newly-developed International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour.

The news came as a shock to the industry, given Expertise Events had been involved with the JAA since the launch of the jewellery fair in 1991.

The JAA statement listed a number of reasons for the decision, including the fact that increased management of the event by the JAA would help to better serve the industry’s ongoing requirements and present initiatives and programs through face-to-face contact.

Selwyn Brandt, JAA president
Selwyn Brandt, JAA president

It also noted that “feedback from many industry participants received in recent years have expressed desire for the JAA to manage the industry fair” and that the decision provided “the opportunity to restore additional benefits for JAA members participating in the fair”.

Further, the release stated: “The JAA is a not-for-profit organisation, meaning it does not need to make the additional profit an outside organiser desires and all JAA profits are reinvested back into members and benefits and the jewellery industry at large.

“The JAA will have the control to customise the fair to suit the market from one year to the next, providing greater benefit to small and large suppliers and retailers, students, manufacturers, exhibitors, sponsors and other industry members alike.

“With a JAA managed fair there is now increased ability to liaise with industry participants about the fair and implement their requirements. For example, many smaller-sized businesses find it difficult to justify the cost of exhibiting and one of the JAA’s aims is to attract these industry participants and others who have left over the years back with the new model.”

End of an era

Expertise Events managing director Gary Fitz-Roy released an industry statement on 26 May in an attempt to “set the record straight” on the JAA announcement.

According to the Expertise Events release, titled Fresh unencumbered fair … new opportunities – the facts!, the JAA statement was “glaringly short on detail” and “did not paint the whole picture”.

“Firstly, after a 25-year relationship with the JAA, Expertise Events was given just 24 hours to agree to a list of demands, which has resulted in the JAA announcing its own fair in 2017 and which effectively divides the industry – because it will run on exactly the same days as the traditional Sydney jewellery fair (IJF),” the release read.

This list of demands included an increase in next year’s sponsorship, which would have resulted in “as much as a 300 per cent increase in our costs and fees” as well as adding ‘JAA’ to the name of the event.

In addition, the Expertise Events statement noted that at the same time it was demanding increased payments, JAA membership numbers had been “declining every year” and that it only represented about 20 per cent of the industry.

“What the JAA release also doesn't tell the industry is that not only did it demand an enormous increase in next year's sponsorship and fees, we were given 24 hours to accept the demands,” the statement read.

“It should be remembered that 24 hour deadline was for an event in 2017 – still 18 months away. So why it was imperative to agree to demands within 24 hours is most unusual.

Gary Fitz-Roy, Expertise Events managing director
Gary Fitz-Roy, Expertise Events managing director

“Most importantly, the JAA’s press release neglected to state that Expertise Events offered to renew our long-standing agreement of 25 years but could not do so within the 24-hour deadline.”

Another salient point highlighted by Expertise Events was that “The JAA release also referred to 'the additional profit of an outside organiser' (implying us) and have since been telling people incorrect amounts paid by us to them.

“The JAA’s own circulated annual reports show that since 2010, Expertise Events has sponsored the JAA to the tune of just under $600,000.

“When you add in other 'contra and kind' benefits such as free exhibition space, seminar rooms and our support of the design awards etc, our total financial support of the JAA is more like $700,000 for the past five years.”

The statement also noted that annual reports would show that over the last 15 years, Expertise Events has paid the JAA just under $1.8 million in sponsorship. Combined with stand space and extras, that figure was said to result in more than $2 million.

“Their [JAA] latest announcement, which divides the industry, seems to be nothing more than a new way of looking for new income but without any detailed plan for what they will do with it, and in the process further dividing the industry,” it added.

The show must go on

Notwithstanding this, the 2016 IJF will still be held in conjunction with the JAA.

Commenting on this year’s event, the Expertise Events release stated: “Our focus is on delivering this year's show in August 2016 and building on last year, which was a great success, and ensuring the independent jewellers have an event of world-class status next year.

“I am sure there will be more to report in the coming weeks but rest assured that we are professionals and will not allow this split to affect the outcome for you at this year's event. In fact it will inspire us to make it even better, as an indication of what we will provide for you in 2017.”

The 2016 IJF will take place from 27–29 August at the Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island.


Update – 30 May

The JAA has responded to the Expertise Events release, stating it “strongly refutes” the events outlined.

According to the JAA statement, Expertise Events was contacted about a new agreement on 5 April and was then given a one-week deadline due to an impending board meeting.

It also noted: “The JAA’s financial statements are available to view, by members, on the JAA website. The overall figures show that the JAA board would have been remiss not to have sought further revenue.”

The release stated that dates for the JAA Jewellery Fair were selected “due to industry input that August is the best time of year and the availability of the venue”.

The statement added that the decision to run a JAA-only event had not been taken lightly and considered all areas of the industry.

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