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This year's fair, held at the new ICC, delivered a bevy of new products and initiatives
This year's fair, held at the new ICC, delivered a bevy of new products and initiatives

Sydney jewellery fair delivers action-packed three days

The 2017 Sydney International Jewellery Fair (IJF) has concluded, with the organiser and exhibitors delivering on the promise of exciting new products, presentations, demonstrations and many other initiatives.

Expectations were high leading into this year’s IJF: the event, which took place from Saturday 26 August to Monday 28 August, was returning to Darling Harbour following the three-year, billion-dollar redevelopment of the International Convention Centre; it was being supported by Australia’s three buying groups; and it boasted a record-number of exhibitors compared to figures of recent years.

There is also no denying that it’s been a difficult year in the local industry – for numerous reasons – and there was an underlying sense of anticipation that the IJF would inject some much-needed optimism into the trade.

While many of the 200 exhibitors were still processing orders at the time of writing, Expertise Events managing director Gary Fitz-Roy said feedback on the event so far had been largely positive.

“Several exhibitors had not been to the fair in years and the majority summed it up as being pleasantly surprised,” Fitz-Roy explained.

Visitor numbers were not finalised at the time of publication but Fitz-Roy said early indications suggested there was an increase on last year when the fair was held at the Sydney Exhibition Centre at Glebe Island.

Colin Pocklington, managing director of Australia and New Zealand’s largest buying group Nationwide Jewellers, said he was stunned by the attendance numbers of his members.

“We registered 350 people from 147 stores; however, another 80 people from 40 more stores turned up at our morning briefing on the Saturday morning, resulting in a rush to set up more chairs,” Pocklington explained.

“So far the feedback from our preferred suppliers and members has been surprisingly buoyant but we will have a better idea of trading once our interest free finance forms and catalogue orders are to hand,” he added.

Fitz-Roy and Pocklington’s comments aside, many exhibitors said they expected more foot traffic across the three days.

“The attendance of retailers seemed down and that was disappointing; however, the quality of the retailers that attended was brilliant and they were ready to purchase new products,” Cudworth Enterprises director Darren Roberts stated.

Phil Edwards, managing director of Duraflex Group Australia (DGA) and long-time IJF exhibitor, had similar sentiments.

“I have no specific figures to back this up, it is just a hunch, but it felt like there was less foot traffic,” he said. “I would have expected more visitors, especially given the new venue.”

Cudworth Enterprises
Cudworth Enterprises
Worth & Douglas
Worth & Douglas
Duraflex Group Australia was awarded the Best Large Stand award
Duraflex Group Australia was awarded the Best Large Stand award
The Best Small Stand award was awarded to Ichu
The Best Small Stand award was awarded to Ichu

Edwards stated, however, that he was happy with the orders made across his jewellery and watch brands.

“The general buying sentiment was conservative but positive. The retailers who attend the fair are generally good operators – they’re always there for a purpose,” he said, adding that his team went to great efforts to develop a fun and interactive stand this year.

“We took the ‘fair’ concept quite literally by staging a carnival-themed space complete with rotating clown heads, popcorn and ice-cream,” he explained. 

The booth generated much hype across the three days and was awarded the Best Large Stand award by Expertise Events.

Stand up and be counted

Like DGA, a generous number of 2017 IJF exhibitors presented fresh stand designs and fit outs.

Ichu embraced its Mexican roots – the jewellery is designed in Melbourne but made in Mexico – and was crowned the Best Small Stand award, while industry veteran Peter Beck said he was excited to introduce a new stand design for his namesake business.

Couture Kingdom, formerly Disney Couture, was another supplier with a renewed presence. Managing director Michael Tran explained that the business had undergone a business overhaul and that the IJF was used as an official launch pad for the rebranding.

“The response to the new branding and collections has been incredible,” Tran said on the Sunday of the fair.

West End Collection general manager John Rose explained that his new open-display stand format worked very well – orders were up 50 per cent on last year.

“The new stand design gave our customers and prospects the ability to touch and feel our new offerings, as well as allowing a good close up look,” Rose said. “With a larger stand space, it also allowed us to have ample comfortable seating to sit down, relax and talk to our customers.”

Of course, a flashy stand isn’t everything and as is traditionally the case, those suppliers with new product – there were also about 50 first-time exhibitors – received the bulk of visitor interest.

Sams Group Australia announced the distribution of Samsung’s Gear S3 smartwatch just days before the fair, and, according to CEO Steve Der Bedrossian, he had already secured 50 accounts by early Saturday afternoon.

Couture Kingdom unveiled its new look
Couture Kingdom unveiled its new look
Sams Group Australia launched the Samsung Gear S3
Sams Group Australia launched the Samsung Gear S3
Ice Australasia launched Uncle Jack and Timberland
Ice Australasia launched Uncle Jack and Timberland
Peter W Beck had a new stand design
Peter W Beck had a new stand design

World Shiner director Maulin Shah said he received good feedback on the supplier’s new Argyle pink diamond offering, while Fabuleux Vous director Helen Thompson-Carter said she had a strong fair; however, the positive results did not come without hard work.

“We did a lot of promotion across buying groups and our retail database and worked extremely hard on new designs that would meet market trends, price point and retailer delivery expectations. It was well worth the effort,” she stated.

Another long-time supporter of the fair, Paterson Fine Jewellery, was very busy, especially on the Saturday and Sunday, and Ice Australasia CEO Larry Porter generated interest at his stand by launching watch brands Uncle Jack and Timberland.

Novel experiences

A new area on the floor called The Village was developed by Expertise Events in an attempt to showcase contemporary local and international designs.

It appeared to strike a chord with visitors, as it was noticeably full of people across the three-day event. Pickup Media’s stand, which showcased the supplier’s innovative GemLightbox designed to take high-quality jewellery images with a smartphone, was particularly popular.

The Village was just one of the value-adds introduced by Expertise Events as a way to enhance the visitor experience. 

A comprehensive schedule of retail-focused seminars took place across the three days, in addition to an industry-wide session on how to prosper in the ‘new normal’ retail environment conducted by Pocklington and a presentation by Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre’s (AUSTRAC) Bradley Brown on the impacts of potential anti-money laundering and counter terrorism reforms.

Colin Pocklington
Colin Pocklington's seminar focused on the 'new normal'
There were plenty of new products on display
There were plenty of new products on display
Visitors could view the 2017 Emirates Melbourne Cup
Visitors could view the 2017 Emirates Melbourne Cup
WorldSkills jewellery competitions also took place on the show floor
WorldSkills jewellery competitions also took place on the show floor

The Victorian, Western Australian and Queensland regional Worldskills jewellery competitions also took place on the show floor.

Worldskills general manager and technical delegate Brigitte Collins said it was the first time these contests had not been conducted at a TAFE and received a great deal of interest from visitors.

“The regionals have been traditionally held in the TAFE facilities due to the equipment etc being available, and students on block release coordinated to be onsite,” Collins explained. 

“However, this year we were offered space at the IJF to run the competitions by Expertise Events and we were then supported by our partners Pallion and Australian Jewellers Supplies who provided the equipment/materials and silver.”

There was also a display of the inaugural Jewellery Design Awards finalist pieces. Visitors were able to view the designs of the 59 finalists and vote for their favourite; the piece with the most votes was crowned the Fair Visitor Choice award. For the full list of winners announced at the awards ceremony on the Saturday night, read our story here.

Retailers weigh-in

From a retailer perspective, Judy Cameron of Cameron’s Fine Jewellers in Swan Hill, Victoria, said she was impressed with the product offerings on show.

“We found new product at the fair, which is what we are always looking for. Last year I left the fair a bit flat because everything looked the same, but this year we found new product that I am sure will boost our Christmas sales,” she said.

“For a lot of rural retailers, the fair is a time that brings jewellers from all over Australia and New Zealand together. Talking with suppliers and other jewellers brings a balance to our business and makes you realise we are all facing new challenges,” Cameron added.

While Noah Gattea of Gattea Jewellers in Sydney said he was glad to see the fair return to Darling Harbour, he believed there was a “sense of stagnation in the industry”.

“There wasn't many new, meaningful products,” he explained. “The upside to this is that I had time to have conversations on future improvements to products that we stock with our existing suppliers, which is in line with our focus on strengthening partnerships.”

Yes, the local industry is not without its challenges; however, the IJF showed that there is plenty of opportunity to band together in order to strengthen the trade in the lead up to Christmas and beyond.

Jeweller will provide further IJF coverage in the October issue of the magazine.

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Wednesday, 27 March, 2019 05:30am
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