EXCLUSIVE: NAJ’s new boss reveals goals for first year in charge

The National Association of Jeweller’s new chief executive officer, Simon Forrester, has revealed his goals for rest of the year.

Talking exclusively to our editor, Stacey Hailes, Forrester identified two key goals the Association is working on this summer, and discussed his overall vision for his first year in charge.

After spending the first 100 days getting to know the jewellery industry and meeting members, the summer will be spent revamping the Association’s website, and finalising a strategic plan.

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The website’s overhaul will include making the front end more appealing and inspiring to the end consumer, while the back end is set to become a hub for the jewellery industry, which will include training and opportunities for networking.

“The NAJ website is really not up to scratch,” shares the NAJ’s new boss, Simon Forrester. “When I came for my interview last year I was doing my research and I looked on the NAJ website and I noticed there were no pictures of jewellery and I was surprised it was very inwardly focused. So the new website is going to be very focused on the consumer.”

The goal is to make the NAJ’s website the go-to place for consumers looking for a piece of jewellery. This will include showcasing its member’s work, and helping to drive footfall into stores.

Meanwhile, the back end will be built around improving the trade’s businesses.

“[The website will] help members meet legal requirements and develop their staff, but it will also look at sustainability issues and being responsible to the environment, so a real range of stuff including lots more resources. And we are developing online training. Obviously it’s very difficult for jewellers to get out of their shops, every minute out of the shop is potentially a sale lost, so we are going to respond to that and get more content online.”

In regards to the strategic plan, this involves the NAJ deciding where it is going in the long-term and it will run in parallel with the new website so that when it’s live it can represent the Association’s strategy.

The strategic plan is currently a working progress, and the Association’s Future Leaders day will help shape it, however, Forrester reveals the industry is calling for consumers to buy more jewellery, and for the trade to look to other sectors for help during difficult times.

“We are still at an early stage now but I would say I can see a need to change our focus,” shares Forrester. “We are very good at looking inwards into own industry and working within the sector, but I think the Association and its partners within the industry need to work together to really target end users. We need to get out there to the consumers and convince them that we are somewhere they should be directing their attention and money.”

He continues: “People’s discretionary spend can go anywhere, whether its holidays or so on, but it’s making them view jewellery as an option and getting them to step up to fine jewellery and move up that ladder. Without some sort of targeted campaign to those people we will never get there.”

While the details of how the NAJ can help promote jewellery to the end consumer are still to be put in place, Forrester says one thing’s for sure – the industry needs to work together to achieve this.

“We are a very fragmented industry and one of the roles for the NAJ is to bring together all of the associations and all of the big interested parties under one banner and say, ‘This is our industry, where can we go collectively?’ Everyone kind of wants to same thing but at the moment they are pulling at different directions so we are not moving forward as much as we could. Our role is to find out what those commonalities are and deliver on those. Make sure that everyone can have a common voice and a common brand to deliver on these goals, whatever those are. At the moment though, one of them is quite clearly ‘buy more jewellery’. That’s the crux of it and if I can deliver that I would have succeeded.”

Ultimately, Forrester wants to see the NAJ really move forward this year and encourage industry professionals to work together to promote the trade and combat challenges.

The CEO concludes:When we’ve got our strategic direction I want to see us really move on that. I think joining the NAG and BJA was such a big project that people said, ‘We’ve achieved that now’, and then things slowed down. I want to build the momentum up again and bring the industry with us.

“The NAJ can’t do this on our own, so what I would like to see in 12 months’ time is us and lots of other parties in the industry all working towards a common goal.”

Read our full interview with Simon Forrester in the June issue of Professional Jeweller.

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One Comment;

  1. Gary Williams said:

    I am delighted to hear that the NAJ is finally seeing the big picture and I wish Simon, the team, and all of the hard working honorary people, forming the future vision, every success..

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