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The Nationwide Jewellers annual members’ conference saw unexpectedly high numbers and a positive, proactive atmosphere.
The Nationwide Jewellers annual members’ conference saw unexpectedly high numbers and a positive, proactive atmosphere.

Numbers, confidence up at buying group conference

The Nationwide Jewellers annual members’ conference defied expectations last week, with retailers, suppliers and attendees noting the atmosphere was busy and upbeat.
Colin Pocklington, Nationwide Jewellers managing director
Colin Pocklington, Nationwide Jewellers managing director
“It might be a while before the country, if not the world, comes out of that – but we’re not going to wait”
Colin Pocklington, Nationwide

Taking place from Saturday 22 June to Sunday 23 June at Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast, this year’s Nationwide Jewellers conference left attendees feeling ready to take on the challenging conditions in the retail sector.

“The conference exceeded expectations in every way,” Colin Pocklington, managing director Nationwide Jewellers, said, adding that more than 160 members attended from around 90 stores.

The number of attendees was a very positive sign, as the record for attendance at the conference is around a hundred stores.

Themed ‘Beyond the New Normal’, the event featured a compelling keynote presentation from retail strategy specialist Salena Knight.

“I had quite a few attendees say how good our speaker was,” Pocklington said. “She [Knight] suggested real, down-to-earth things that our members could do to make their social-media marketing better, from using the right copy and advertising to who they should be targeting and how, and giving examples from other jewellery companies from Australia and overseas.”

Knight’s presentation, Build A Brand That Doesn’t Need To Compete, complemented the rest of the program, which focused on sharing practical tips to overcome a slump that Pocklington describes as “worse than previous recessions” – namely, flat and declining sales, store closures, and less customers in the critical $400 to $1,800 price range, as well as the heavy impact of technology on bricks-and-mortar sales.

“It might be a while before the country, if not the world, comes out of that – but we’re not going to wait,” Pocklington says. “We’re going to jump out of that and position ourselves to be really good retailers in the 2020s; it’s our role to point the way, to show our members what they have to do to make that quantum jump.”

Strategies for success
 Retail strategist Salena Knight
Retail strategist Salena Knight

Pocklington’s own presentation focused on maximising returns through better stock management – paying particular attention to stockturn rates.

“If you increase your stockturn rate by 0.1, for a store with sales of $500,000, and stock of $500,000 at retail, you would have $25,000 extra cash in your hand every year,” Pocklington said, emphasising the need to have a specific stock tracking system. “In the jewellery industry, everyone’s got at least $100,000 of stock – and some up to $1 million. You can’t afford not to have a system, it’s madness.”

Stock turn rates have historically been used to measure stock performance, and are particularly important when it comes to two critical categories in the jewellery industry: white diamonds and branded jewellery.

“You go back 20 years or beyond, we didn’t have as much fashion jewellery content. Now, because [branded jewellery] has a fashion content, it comes in and out in a quicker cycle; every six months, you have to check which part of the cycle the brand is in. Any stock that is below the average stockturn rate needs to be fixed or got rid of – you can’t get emotionally attached to stock,” Pocklington explains.

Nationwide is now advising members to analyse their stock levels every three months.

“The average stockturn rate for diamonds is about 0.3, which means it’s turning over every three years – and that’s where a lot of people have got a lot of money tied up,” Pocklington reveals. “You have to analyse it quarterly, and continually work on the old stock that’s over three years old; particularly given the rise of custom-makes, which has decreased sales of made up diamond jewellery on the shelf.”

Other speakers included gemmologist Bill Sechos, CEO Gem Studies Laboratories in Sydney, West End Collection managing director John Rose, and HR expert John Arraj.

Conference attendees were also given a comprehensive program of Nationwide members’ events to be held at the International Jewellery & Watch Fair in Sydney on 24-26 August.


More reading:
Time for the industry to grow again
Applicants pour in for Nationwide free diamond training
Buying group conference “best ever”

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