Q&A: Julie Driscoll sets the agenda for J&WB 2015

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Professional Jeweller editor Sarah Louise Jordan catches up with Julie Driscoll, portfolio director for fashion and jewellery at i2i Events Group, to discover more about this year’s Jewellery & Watch Birmingham and what it has in store for exhibitors and visitors in 2015.

As members of the UK jewellery industry descend on the Midlands for the annual Jewellery & Watch Birmingham showcase, Julie Driscoll is gearing-up to see months of hard work finally come to their crucial conclusion. Professional Jeweller caught up with Driscoll on the eve of the five-day event to find out what to expect…

Professional Jeweller: What is going to be different about Jewellery & Watch Birmingham this year?

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Julie Driscoll: Jewellery & Watch Birmingham will be showcasing thousands of new collections from fine jewellery and watches to silver and designer pieces — many will be exclusively launched at the show. We understand how important newness is for our visitors so we have had a real focus on how we can help highlight these new ranges. We have introduced a new feature area that will showcase only the newest pieces and collections from across the show called the Trend Table. Plus, we have a new theme for 2015 — Origins.

Distilled from fashion and jewellery trends for AW15, Origins captures the essence of our identity through the jewellery we wear; how it defines us, what it says about us and what it means to us. The concept of ‘stories behind the pieces’ has encouraged great engagement from our brands, visitors and buyers, as well as the media. We also have some really interactive parts to the seminar programme. We asked our retail visitors ‘What do you think you could be doing better?’, and overwhelmingly the answer related to visual merchandising, or ‘doing the window’.

With this in mind we’ve put together some inspiring and informative content at Jewellery & Watch Birmingham to help retailers do an even better job. Alan Springall, previously responsible for the windows at Selfridges department store and a hugely respected merchandising expert, will be joining us at the show to deliver a quick-fire tutorial designed specifically for jewellers. He will discuss how you can avoid some common pitfalls in the trade, while offering a tour of the best visual merchandising at the show to learn what techniques some of the best displays are using.

The Buyers Power List 2015, sponsored by Uno de 50, will also be a key social highlight of the event. It will take place around the catwalk at 6pm on Monday February 2. We shall also be making some extremely exciting announcements about the 2016 event.

PJ: Can you tell us more about the success of the show in 2014?

JD: The key success for Jewellery & Watch Birmingham was the number of customers that rebooked. We have had record rebooking rates with over 85% of the customers returning and many taking more space, including the likes of Pandora, who will be exhibiting exclusively at the show with their SS15 and Valentine’s Day collections. This is a sign that brands have had a great return on investment. It also indicates that the quality and quantity of buyers has improved year on year.

PJ: Will any new brands or companies be showing at J&WB this year and are there any you’re particularly excited about?

JD: We have a fantastic selection of new exhibitors at the show this year with many exclusive to this event only. Many of these new brands are international including Endless Jewelry, Uno de 50, Tuum, Nordahl Anderson and Snö of Sweden. We are also introducing watch brands Swiss Emporio and Minster 1949, as well as new designers AneMiDesign and Amulette that will feature in the Design Quarter area.

PJ: Where do you think J&WB stands in the roster of UK jewellery trade shows and what do you think makes it a key destination year-on-year?

JD: Jewellery & Watch Birmingham is a key destination on the buying calendar every year. It is conveniently located at the centre of the country for ease of travelling but it is also less than 5 minutes’ walk from both airport and train station, so really is perfectly located for a business event that welcomes thousands of visitors every year.

With over 400 exhibitors, 600 brands and thousands of pieces to source J&WB is a perfect event at the ideal time of year for buying. Additionally, it is co-located with Spring Fair, the UK’s largest retail trade show that showcases over 3000 exhibitors with products that include fashion jewellery, accessories and gifts.

This interview initially appeared in the February issue of Professional Jeweller. You can read the digital edition here.

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