Lower membership fees and a travelling jewellery exhibition lined up.
The Houlden Group has unveiled a number of plans for 2011 at its buying and management event in London, attended by members and guests from the jewellery industry.
The event, which took place at the end of February, saw head of the group Stuart Laing address the audience with key plans for the year ahead.
Laing has several strategies lined up to ensure Houlden Group is "seen as more than just a buying group."
He said: "Traditionally Houlden Group has been seen as a buying group [but] we have more to offer than that to the jewellery trade. Our members benefit from networking opportunities, access to specially commissioned training sessions, marketing solutions and various other business services to help drive their businesses forward."
Laing also addressed the current economic climate, especially within the jewellery industry where rising metal prices are affecting how designers are budgeting. The group plans to reduce its membership fees, making it more accessible.
"In light of the difficult economic climate in which retail jewellers are operating, we took the decision to reduce our membership fee and offer the first six months free to new members in order to encourage them to join and see for themselves the fantastic benefits we can offer them", said Laing.
Alongside reduced membership fees, a travelling exhibition of jewellery has also been organised with help from Julie Driscoll of The Jewellery Show at Spring Fair. Driscoll introduced Houlden Group’s Designs of Excellence Collection initiative at the meeting, which will see 17 pieces of jewellery from members’ collections form for a travelling exhibition, stopping off at members’ jewellery stores.
Organised to promote brand awareness for the designers involved, Laing said: "It is important for our members to be one step ahead of the game and always looking at innovative ways of doing things. The Designs of Excellence tour ticks these boxes and a chance for members to create a buzz and attract footfall to their stores."
The meeting saw a number of guest speakers covering a range of topics. GFK Retail and Technology talked through the latest watch buying trends while Rebecca and Howard van Rooijen of Benchpeg gave advice on social networking for businesses, highlighting the importance of using social media in retail businesses.
Other guest speakers included Michael Hoare from the National Association of Goldsmiths (NAG) who outlined new initiatives the association is running this year. Hearts On Fire trainer Adam Fried also flew in from the USA to present session focused on the new demands of today’s customer.