Professional Jeweller sat down with the CMJ’s new chief executive officer, Terry Boot, to find out his first impressions of the jewellery industry and how he plans to push the buying group forward.
How you finding the role so far?
Fine. Because I had been part of the organisation for nine months now it is not totally new, so I have gone into it with eyes wide open. So that’s been really good, I have not come in cold. It’s a good start.
What are your first impressions of the jewellery industry?
It is very unique. There is not many retailers out there that have the theatre and the drama of a jeweller. Also you go into many high streets and shopping centres and you see very much the same. It is not like that with the jewellery industry. It’s unique in that way.
What are you finding is the biggest challenges for independent jewellers?
I think a lot of the challenges the jewellers are finding is challenges retailers are finding. Increasing costs. Minimum wage. Rental increases. The pressure on the dollar and the euro, so the margin that they are able to achieve on the products are being diminished. So I think there are some huge cost pressures which we are finding across the board.
As the CEO of the CMJ, how do you plan to help retail members over the next 12 months?
A lot of the talk we’ve had is about networking. We provide a lot of services in the industry to our members, so it’s shouting about that. But networking is really important. How are likeminded people coping with various things? Because the jewellers are facing the exact same challenges. So talking to somebody else. Just trying to bring them together is really important. So people might say, is that it, networking? No there is a lot of other things but that is really important. It also gives people confidence and different ideas. So we are going to build on the networking and the networking opportunities we offer the members – so more regional meetings and possibly a conference next year. We are also looking at things like bus tours to different stores which we have done in the past. So that can be regional, or national, and that’s a good opportunity for people to spend a bit more time together socially, as well as work wise.
Do you find retailers are happy to talk and help each other?
I think they are. A lot of them are in competition with each other, but yes they do talk because they want to understand what’s selling? What’s not selling? So I think they are really open to understanding that, but it’s key to get people into these events to see the benefits of doing that.
What’s your overall vision for the CMJ over the next year?
It’s very simple really. It’s back to basics. We’ve said it a lot and it is a bit cliché to some degree, but it’s concentrating on the members and suppliers. We have lost that, or at least lost some of it. What’s happened over the last 12 months has been a distraction for obvious reasons so it is key just to reengage with the members and suppliers, and say right, ‘what do you actually want?’ And also for us to shout about what we actually do as well. So it’s to reengage with existing members and suppliers, and to look at getting more members in. There’s a lot of potential retailers out there that could benefit from the CMJ. I want to understand, why aren’t they in the CMJ? If we offer something that is a benefit, why aren’t they here? But, whether we have engaged enough with potential new members, I don’t know. I think we have engaged but possibly not enough. There are 100 towns and cities that have no representation of the CMJ, so there is a lot to go at.