With six months to go before the next Jewellery & Watch, Professional Jeweller caught up with Ascential Events, portfolio director, Julie Driscoll to find out what is in store…
Professional Jeweller: What can the jewellery industry expect from Jewellery & Watch next February?
Julie Driscoll: J&W will be an edited blend of fine jewellery with a large collection of silver and semi-precious. The show has now capitalised on the adjacencies with Spring Fair to create a seamless offering and a better experience to our visitors. It will be a hub of activity where you will be able to view the latest trends and easily find them around the show. We have a new appointment system which will enable our buyers and exhibitors to interact before the show and to organise face-to-face meetings, ensuring both parties maximise their time on site.
PJ: How will this differ (if at all) to previous years?
JD: This year we are focusing on educating our retailers and buyers from across relevant retail sectors such as gift and fashion on the benefits of diversifying their offering. In this current market, it is very difficult to specialise in a specific vertical (e.g. just stationary); you need to be flexible and offer the adjacent products as well. Our gift shop owners are all looking for ways to maximise their ROI per sqm of their store; jewellery represents a fantastic way to do this and we expect to see a lot more buyers visiting the jewellery and watch show to capitalise on this.
PJ: What big brand exhibitors can you name-drop in advance as a teaser for Professional Jeweller’s audience?
JD: Visitors will be able to see new collections from Clogau, Nomination, Gecko and Unique Jewellery, to name but a few.
PJ: What is your opinion on the state of the market at the moment, both at UK level and globally?
JD: The industry is going through a tough time at the moment, both in the UK and globally. The exchange rate fluctuation, created by political instability, has created challenging market conditions for many manufacturers. However, in the face of adversity we have seen a number of brands continue to thrive. We have visited every major trade show around the world this year. One thing we have realised is that the jewellery and watch industry are resilient and innovative.
PJ: What role is the internet playing in jewellery purchasing and what effect does this have on an exhibition like Jewellery & Watch?
JD: If we look at the physical transaction where money changes hands then I think it is obvious that more and more transactions are taking place online. However the jewellery industry has not seen the level of disruption that the food industry has (for example) largely because the cost of items is so much higher. The internet will never replace the experience of holding a new piece of jewellery in your hands.
However, the way that retailers and consumers buy, has changed. At J&W we see far more of our buyers come to see the jewellery and subsequently place orders online after the show. Less buying takes place as a result of a snap decision, it is now carefully weighed up and debated, before an order is placed. Repeat orders are placed online or on the phone, but this is nothing new, it has been happening for the past 10 years.
PJ: How do you see Jewellery & Watch evolving over the next year, five years and 10 years?
JD: The Jewellery and Watch trade show is and always shall be a reflection of the industry itself. As retail evolves so will our show. We are extremely lucky at Ascential to have sister brands such as WGSN, Inside Retail and One Click Retail, which can help us see what is selling through now and what the consumer will be focusing on in three years’ time. We shall continue to work with our sister brands to evolve the show.