Initial feedback from International Jewellery London 2014 reveals its move to Olympia has had a positive effect on trading, with exhibitors upbeat and visitor numbers edging up. Professional Jeweller discovers what the industry thought of this year’s trade show.
Early reports following International Jewellery London (IJL) 2014 at the Olympia Grand in London reveal largely positive feedback from exhibitors taking part and visitors walking the halls, with visits up 4% compared to IJL 2013.
Prior to the show, which took place between August 31 and September 2, there had been speculation as to how the show layout would work with the venue change. On the positive side, the venue was a brighter and larger space compared to Earls Court – this year housing more than 550 brands and companies – however the relocation of the designer area to the upstairs of the show had raised concerns from exhibitors that were used to being on the ground floor and often the first to be seen at the show.
Post-show, however, the mood has been one of positivity, not only from personnel at IJL organiser Reed Expo, but also from the exhibitors and visitors that Professional Jeweller spoke with directly.
In a post-event release, IJL event director Sam Willoughby said: “Our new venue proved to be the perfect setting for IJL’s best show ever, with an increased number of senior key retailers and buyers attending, especially from Ireland and overseas. As a barometer for the industry, the feedback was incredibly positive and upbeat, confirming that IJL now rivals its European counterparts.”
Indeed, opinions from visiting retailers suggested the move had been a successful one for the show. Alison Skeates, co-owner and buyer at independent London retailer EC One told Professional Jeweller: “Having so much natural light flooding the venue was a great improvement. As a buyer, walking a big show is always tiring so better light and a more inviting environment is always good for keeping up your energy and momentum.”
Skeates also described the layout of the designer section on the mezzanine as very successful. “It ensured you didn’t miss anyone,” she explains. “At Earls Court it was possible to do that as you were weaving up and down the aisles. The division between small designer makers and brands worked well too in my opinion, as appropriate designers were guaranteed to be located together.”
Jewellery blogger and designer Kate Baxter of The Cut London visited the show to seek out new jewellery talent. “It was well curated with the different sections [such as] Bright Young Gems and New Designers, which was helpful and clear,” Baxter said. “I liked having the more directional designers on a separate floor, which meant I could navigate them efficiently without getting distracted by loose stones or diamonds.”
For Vanessa Burkitt, managing director of Catherine Jones of Cambridge, the Victorian architecture of the space lent itself well to the glamour of the jewellery on show. She explained: “I walked in and was immediately blown away by the spaciousness and style of the show’s layout. The aisles were invitingly wide and easy to navigate. I was relieved to see how easy it was to access the upper gallery and reassured that the designers there were given the prominence they deserve. Overall, for me, the show was 100 times better than when at Earl’s Court.”
The physical layout of the show had been a concern for some brands and businesses prior to the event, with well-known British designers such as Jessica Flinn and Andrew Geoghegan eschewing IJL 2014 to instead explore other methods of business development.
Nevertheless, early indicators show that buyers were doing what they do best, and orders were placed, cards exchanged and meetings put in the diary.
For new Danish jewellery company Nordahl Andersen, IJL marked its first foray into the UK trade. The company’s exports manager Thomas Dusinius Kronevald told Professional Jeweller: “IJL was a great start for our entry at the UK market — customers were positive towards us, about their own business and the coming season. The show gave us our first UK accounts, appointments and many leads.” Kronevald also praised the organisation of the event; in particular the security of the show halls.
JCM London founder and owner Mehmet Topbas added: “We saw a good uplift in accounts and we look forward to growing with our clients and seeing them again next year.”
Adds EC One assistant buyer Charlotte Kimber: “Due to the change of venue a lot of jewellers who would have usually shown deferred this year, which allowed us to see more fresh designers and brands, which are key for independent retailers competing against heavily-branded shops.”
Howard Graham of Ntinga was also positive about the space, stating: “We had our best-ever trade show at the new Olympia. With our new booth and exciting ranges it really was exceptional, and most of our trade came from our new natural diamond ring collection.”
For more established brands such as Carat*, the show provided increased interest from international buyers, as well as five new UK shop-in-shop accounts set to roll out before Christmas.
For others, the show was a chance to gain feedback on how to develop business. KickStarter Sophie Alice Hirsch told Professional Jeweller that IJL was “a perfect introduction” to the trade show circuit. “As a new business it has brought opportunities with press and new stockists. Ultimately, it has allowed me to consider the next step for my business, and where that may be best.”
Alongside its promotion of new designers through its KickStarter and Bright Young Gems areas, this year’s IJL also played host to new elements such as a Late Night Shopping Evening and a charity auction, which raised more than £3,000 for Breast Cancer Care through the sale of 12 lots, including pieces from Carat*, Rosie Sanders, Harriet Bedford and Sarah Ho. The highlight was a highly-publicised charm bracelet, with charms from a coterie of British design talent, designed by Sarah Jordan and cast by Hockley Mint. Its highest bid came from retailer Julia Clarke of Hester Clarke.
In all, the main message from the show was one of much greater optimism than trade shows of recent years. With Olympia secured as IJL’s venue going forward, Willoughby is confident about the breath of fresh air and energy the show has won. “Olympia provided a really stylish backdrop for the superb line-up of leading UK and international jewellers and designers to present their collections, many of whom have already signed up for 2015,” she says.
Burgeoning Business – Feedback and Deals at IJL
Carat* – opened five shop-in-shop accounts
LucyQ – opened eight new retail accounts
Stubbs & Co. – IJL business up 62%, gold kit sales represented 25% of orders
Anchor & Crew – IJL dealings helped to double its number of stockists
Domino – rose gold and new Scintillating Diamonds range were a hit
Raw Pearls – made its show debut with great interest in its Premium Collection
Talbots Group – launched a new brand identity and seasonal collections
Esoteric Luxury – opened accounts with Wave and Justice, with more to come
P J Watson – won the Gem-A’s Gem Empathy award
Above figures taken from the time of printing. This Review was taken from the October issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue in full online, click here.