Best of British Q&A: Simon Rainer, BJA

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Chief exec on how best to push overseas as a UK jewellery brand.

The January issue of Professional Jeweller was all about celebrating British jewellery talent and looking at what UK companies can do to take their jewels global. British Jewellers’ Association chief executive Simon Rainer regularly offers advice to British jewellery brands and designers within the BJA that want to take their work abroad. Here he shares some of his expertise and opinions about exporting.

Professional Jeweller: What advice do you have for British jewellery companies looking to export?
Simon Rainer: From a personal perspective, and one based on experience, if you can’t crack your own market then you will struggle with exporting. I meet regularly with BJA members who see export as the way forward, but when it is explained to them – the pitfalls, financial investment, etc – they often reconsider. There is very little funding available, but there are a few grants around to help companies exhibit overseas – as we do with member companies at Inhorghenta.

PJ: What are the most common pitfalls designers or brands face when entering new markets?
SR: Many designers miss the point on who the prospective owner of their jewellery might be – from this very basic premise can they only then decide upon the right retailer profile to sell their work. The same principle applies to export – the market has to be thoroughly researched to understand whether the product is right for that consumer type.

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PJ: We have a wealth of jewellery design and craftsmanship talent in the UK, but little of it ends up being exported. What do you feel the barriers are that are holding Brits back?
SR: From the mentoring work and training work that we carry out, companies often hit the glass ceiling because they have forgotten the basics of doing business. Quite often, designers consider that product is everything and they forget that their jewellery is often an extension of themselves. They are reticent in selling themselves first and thereafter the products that they produce. Also they lack experience in planning and fully understanding what the retailer or end consumer actually wants from them. If we take the successful designers, such as Rachel Galley, Sarah Jordan, Sheila Fleet, Sarah Ho, etc, they are personalities first and product second. They also appreciate that there has to be an investment in branding, packaging, price pointing, display material and training to help the retailer sell the product through. Selling a brand or a collection in is the easy part – getting repeat orders is the acid test of success.

PJ: What do you believe the future holds for the British jewellery industry?
SR: The future of British jewellery is fundamentally the quality and innovation of design in addition to emerging personalities who are truly representative of their brands.

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