This year’s International Jewellery London has a new event director at the helm. Here, Katie morris reveals how she has been learning about the trade and what she hopes exhibitors and visitors will take away from the 2019 edition.
You took over the reins of IJL in January, could you tell us a bit about your experience and how it has prepared you for leading IJL?
Before taking up this role, I was fortunate enough to have a ‘taster’ experience on IJL as I directed the buyer programme at last year’s show. I’ve worked in events in a variety of marketing roles since I graduated from Durham. It’s interesting to me that, while the sectors I have experienced are diverse – from travel to books – there are lots of factors that connect them. People, changing consumer behaviours, technological evolution, high street challenges, sustainability – you name it, whatever industry you are in – the challenges and opportunities are fairly consistent and the experience I have had in other sectors is certainly something I want to bring to IJL.
What have you been doing to get to know the industry and its needs from a trade show?
As I mentioned, my introduction to the jewellery industry was through our Diamond Club, the VIP Buyers Programme, at IJL 2018 and that gave me a great snapshot of the industry both at home in the UK and internationally. Since January, I have visited a good number of other jewellery shows as well as many of the UK jewellery hubs such as Birmingham and Sheffield and, of course, a good few of our exhibitors. Being involved in the judging the Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council Awards in January was really instructive and our partnerships with GCDC, the NAJ, CMJ and others have been really helpful. I’ve made sure that I’ve immersed myself in trade journals like Professional Jeweller, to get insights on the state of the sector, keep up to date with global news and identify key trends and new talent. The jewellery trade is a friendly one and without exception, everyone that I have reached out to has been ready to share their knowledge freely. It’s been an insightful and enjoyable few months.
What have you been implementing and driving forward for this year’s show?
Getting the right retailers and buyers to our show is at the heart of our activities and we are delighted with the increase in international attendance on that front. We’re also focusing on the content that we deliver. We’ll be continuing with the Uniquely UK collaboration, in partnership with the Goldsmiths Craft & Design Council, which celebrates the best of British design and celebrated notable designers including Shaun Leane and Theo Fennell in 2018. We’ll move the spotlight around the UK as we continue to highlight the amazing talent we have across the country. Activity like this really helps to elevate the status of the show, both in the UK and across the world. We are also looking at the way we deliver trends information; we know that the catwalks are hugely popular, so we’ll be looking at using technology to further enhance the experience, as well as working with trade influencers and Instagram bloggers to really deliver impact.
Have you drastically changed anything to meet visitor or exhibitor demands?
The exhibitor layout remains largely the same this year, although we are increasing our focus on watches. Watch sales continue to increase globally and feedback from buyers is that they would like to see more product at IJL. Our new Watch District will come complete with a horologist to complement our other Workshop Live content.
Could you tell us about some of this year’s highlights?
We will be celebrating some great British talent with our inaugural Jeweller of the Fair programme — this year highlighting the work of artist jeweller, John Moore. We have also merged all our awards into one celebration on the catwalk, which we believe will create a much better, streamlined event for everyone, including the nominees and winners. We also want to create a real buzz within and external to the trade. We believe that integral to the success of the jewellery trade, is the demand from consumers. So, where possible, we have been amplifying the many positive messages around jewellery at public events, including a great pop-up event with Dinny Hall at Liberty’s of London. The events have been well received and we intend to do more.
What do you hope visitors will take away from this edition?
That the UK jewellery industry is inspiring, innovative and successful! Also, that London is an essential hub for our international exhibitors and visitors. Whatever success looks like – from purchasing a new product, identifying key new trends, engaging with our educational programme or connecting with new and existing contacts from across the trade – it can all be found at IJL. Our focus is on how we can do this, and we research what works across the globe at other shows, as well as applying some of the proven techniques from our collective experience. It’s a continuous exercise, which starts almost as soon as each show finishes.
What feedback from exhibitors have you been getting? And what are their expectations for the 2019 show?
We had feedback on the Sunday opening times, and it was great to be able to act on it; we’ve changed the opening times to 10am until 6pm, with the exhibitor drinks party now starting at 6pm. On the whole, our exhibitors have been pleased with the changes made to the 2018 show and are comfortable with allowing us to bed in the successes this year. There is an understanding that the show reflects the trade in general, so our fortunes align with that of the sector. IJL is an important event for the UK jewellery trade and we intend on ensuring that it remains a key calendar date for the sector.
How will you help exhibitors connect with retailers?
We have worked hard to increase the number of international buyers, with larger delegations coming across from the US, India, Middle East and China. We have on average more than 200 UK buyers and retailers that visit the show. We ensure that we develop and maintain relationships with these buyers and understand what they are looking for in terms of product, so that we can direct their experience whilst at IJL. We are here to facilitate introductions between exhibitors and retailers, so we ensure that we have a good idea of what will be exhibited too. As well as introductions, we also encourage exhibitors to utilise our online portal to promote their product; they can also provide content to us for us to promote via our channels, direct to buyers and retailers.
If you could sum up this year’s show in one sentence, what would you say?
The very best of the jewellery trade, and in particular an international showcase for the British jewellery trade, all under one roof.
What are you most looking forward to?
I enjoy so many elements of the show from the Bright Young Gems and Kickstart programmes to the awards. I also enjoy the seminar programme; we attract a great line-up of contributors. I will be watching and monitoring constantly. This is my first year as IJL event director so I will be looking at what works, whilst listening to my key audiences — the exhibitors and the visitors.
What advice would you give retailers to help them make the most of the show?
Visit the website and plan your visit. If you’re seeking something specific or need an introduction, get in touch with the team — let us know and we’ll do our best to make it happen. And make time for networking and our seminar programme.