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Hong Kong Fair 2010
Hong Kong Fair 2010

Buyers bounce back in Hong Kong

Positive sentiment surrounding the Hong Kong Jewellery Show is yet another sign that the world jewellery market is on the rebound. COLEBY NICHOLSON met a number of Australian exhibitors.

Overseas buyers at the five-day Hong Kong International Jewellery Show increased by 28 per cent over the 2009 show, according the organiser’s post-fair report. It’s an outstanding figure but one of the bellwethers for any international jewellery fair is how many of these were from the US. Hong Kong registered a 38 per cent increase in American buyers, which would be most pleasing given that the previous year’s event was held in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis.

With over 32,000 visitors in attendance, there was sure to be plenty of Aussies and Kiwis and unofficial estimates placed the number at over 700 – a significant increase on the 2009 attendance, while not a record. “The buyer attendance figures tell us that the retail market is definitely in recovery, not only from mature markets such as Europe and the US, but also from emerging markets such as Eastern Europe and India,” said Lawrence Ma, chairman of the HKTDC Hong Kong International Jewellery Show Fair Organising Committee and the HKTDC Jewellery Advisory Committee.

Ma added that the HKTDC recruited buyers from 123 countries and regions and sponsored more than 2,000 buyers at this year’s fair. The government-backed organisation is the global marketing arm for Hong-Kong-based manufacturers, traders and service providers.

According to government figures, only four countries increased their jewellery trade with Hong Kong in 2009, and only two of these were western countries – Australia and Belgium. In fact, exports to Australia increased by nine per cent and only Macau recorded an increase greater than Australia, if one ignores exports to Mainland China (a 68 per cent increase).

While exports to Belgium increased by three per cent, exports to Macau increased by some 30 per cent – it should be remembered that Macau is a special administrative region of China.

Ma explained that Australia’s importance to Hong Kong has grown at a time when the rest of the developed world’s jewellery markets have suffered at the hands of the GFC.

“This (increase in trade) represents that the Australian economy is doing better than the rest of the world. More importantly, there’s a growth trend of more Australian buyers coming to Hong Kong,” Ma said, adding that the strong dollar also helped Australian importers.

It was the first time that the March fair included the additional atrium levels and the fair now exceeds 87,000 square metres.

Six Australian companies exhibited at this year’s fair. One new-comer, Brisbane based CloverMe, decided to attend the show only three weeks before the event.

CloverMe managing director Robert Zander explained that it was a last-minute decision to exhibit, meaning that CloverMe was placed into the aptly-named Expo Drive – a euphemism for an expansive, carpeted car park.

“Launching CloverMe at Hong Kong, we couldn’t have hoped for a better or more successful launch and the enquiries and interest for our product continues. We met some fabulous Australian and international buyers, which we are currently negotiating arrangements with,” Zander said.

“We would definitely exhibit again as the customers we will obtain from the contacts we made have been very worthwhile,” he added.

Nati Harpaz, CEO, Magnolia Silver, was another Australian at the fair for the first time. Magnolia is a retail chain specialising in silver jewellery and the group started in Europe and recently expanded into Australia.

Harpaz said he was most impressed with the organisation of the fair saying it was “fantastic”. Although he was not on a buying mission because Magnolia Silver’s product is sourced exclusively from Europe, he did source and make contact with a number of packaging and equipment suppliers at the Hong Kong show. “There is so much variety everywhere you look, the show was really very impressive.”

He also used the visit as a fact finding mission seeing what trends were emerging.

Australian-based precious metal group Palloys was an exhibitor at Hong Kong via its newly acquired, Hong Kong based findings business, Golden Age International.

Managing director, Andrew Cochineas said the fair was “amazing”. “We are extremely happy and I could not believe the number of Australians and Kiwis we met at the show. Even though Golden Age has been at the show for 30 years, it was the first time under our management and we expanded the booth to 18 square metres. Business could not have been better for us,” Cochineas said.

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