CMJ gears up for first AGM since Willie Hamilton’s departure

The Company of Master Jewellers held its bi-annual two day trade event in Birmingham last weekend (Feb 21-22). The event saw the announcement that CMJ will be launching its own distribution business and acquiring data and design companies. The CMJ Spring Trade event is an opportunity for approved suppliers to showcase new and bestselling collections to CMJ retail members. New suppliers this year included pearl brand Claudia Bradby, Danish charm brand Trollbeads and packaging company Talbot Group.

The Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ) is gearing up for its first AGM meeting since chief executive officer of 10 years, Willie Hamilton, resigned.

The summer buying meeting is always a crucial time for the CMJ as it is the first opportunity for members to come together after the financial report of the previous year is circulated.

CMJ members have a financial stake in what is effectively a cooperative, so they scrutinise every line of the accounts for expenditure that might have been saved and returned to them in the form of their annual rebate.

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Although the financial accounts for the year ended March 31 2017 have not yet been made public, they have been circulated to retail members.

From what Professional Jeweller has seen, the buying group has disclosed a loss of £73,123 before taxation, despite the CMJ reporting a profit before taxation of £415,826 during the same period last year.

The accounts also reveal that a £195,000 bonus was paid to a senior member of the CMJ executive team for “successfully negotiating significant supplier contracts over a number of years”, something which retail members have called into questions. There have also been rumblings about the size of rebates paid last year, although this is not uncommon at this time of year.

With this in mind, tomorrow morning (Monday, August 7) members will no doubt have many questions for chairman, Michael Aldridge, who was appointed to this position in June, and interim chief executive officer, Terry Boot.

Talking to members at the show, it is hoped at the meeting that the board of directors will provide more clarity on the financial accounts and discuss their plans for overcoming the challenges it faces.

It is also hoped that going forward, the CMJ will focus on what it was made to do and work in the best interests of if members.

Now with 158 members, members of the CMJ need to work together to give independents a powerful voice in the industry, and provide the help needed for retailers to thrive during what is currently a tough season on the high street and ultimately come out the other side stronger.

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