The Company of Master Jewellers is adding a distribution business, a data mining company and a design firm to its cooperative.
The companies join Facets PR, a communications consultancy, the UK Jewellery Conference and its twice-a-year buying events to the range of businesses owned and run by the CMJ.
Chief executive Willie Hamilton (pictured above) outlined the expansion in an exclusive interview with Professional Jeweller this week ahead of briefing CMJ members on Sunday.
“This is all part of our 2020 vision, which shows how we will transform the CMJ for the benefit of our members and the wider jewellery industry,” he said.
Mr Hamilton concedes that the move to create a full service distribution company within the CMJ is not without risk, and is likely to be piloted with a handful of jewellery brands. “It might be 10 brands, it might be two brands, we don’t know. We are going to be very selective about the brands we choose,” he stated.
Some of these brands could already be active in the UK, but would like to switch to a new distributor. Others will be brands from overseas looking to break into the UK, he suggested.
The distribution company will be free to represent brands that are not paid-up CMJ suppliers, and will sell to retailers that are not members of the group. “But there will be a margin advantage for CMJ retailers,” he promised.
“If we managed to bring another brand like Pandora to the UK – although there will never be another Pandora – then CMJ retailers and non-CMJ retailers would source it from us,” he added.
A significant percentage of all transactions processed between CMJ suppliers and its retailers are between Pandora and its multi-store franchise partners, an arrangement that Pandora president for Western Europe, Peter Andersen, told Professional Jeweller in January he has no plans to change.
Asked this week for his view about CMJ launching a distribution company, Mr Anderson said: “I have heard from Willie regarding this. Pandora would never get involved in telling CMJ how to run their business. But, saying that, I of course always conduct my business to get the best from a Pandora view.”
Mr Hamilton stresses the CMJ has been evolving into much more than a buying group since he took over as chief executive, and continuing this diversification and expansion of services has always been his plan.
Improving data collection, analysis and redistribution is a key element of the CMJ’s 2020 vision. The creation of a so called ‘big data’ company was first revealed last year, but the group has gone further this year with the acquisition of HBS Consultants Ltd, a specialist in business information services.
HBS will collect sales data from all participating retailers, analyse that data and feed it back to business owners. This will include data on more than just the jewellery bought through the CMJ buying group, it will also look at non CMJ suppliers. “We aim to collect and analyse sell-out data from participating retailers on everything they sell, from Tag Heuer and Rolex to independent jewellery designers,” Mr Hamilton said. “Nobody else is doing this.”
Design Unique has been providing design and marketing services to CMJ members for several years, but has now been acquired by the group. Previous work has included designing brochures, catalogues and a website for Allum & Sidway; plus brand identity work for Gecko Jewellery and Robinson Pelham.
As a cooperative, all CMJ members stand to benefit financially from any profitable businesses that the group owns. Plus, they will have access to the expertise of a greatly expanded executive team that will reside in a Rugby headquarters that is doubling in size.
The Expanded CMJ Empire
Buying Group – offering expertise, handling transactions, financial services and discounts between members suppliers and retailers. Also runs the twice per year buying meetings, which have become sizeable exhibitions.
Distribution – full service distribution of new brands to CMJ members and non-members.
Big Data – HBS will be a fully-owned company providing data services and other IT expertise.
Design Unique – acquired by the CMJ to provide design and marketing services to members including websites, catalogues, branding and merchandising.
Facets PR – launched by the CMJ to provide marketing and communications to member and non-member retailers and brands.
UK Jewellery Conference – annual conference owned and run by the CMJ for members and non-members.