Fair war erupts in New Zealand

The Jewellers & Watchmakers of New Zealand annual trade fair is facing increased competition this year with the announcement that Australian company Expertise Events will…

The Jewellers & Watchmakers of New Zealand annual trade fair is facing increased competition this year with the announcement that Australian company Expertise Events will be holding its inaugural New Zealand fair at the same time.

The JWNZ 2009 Annual Trade Fair will be held at the Ellerslie Events Centre in Auckland while Expertise Events’ New Zealand Jewellery Fair will be held at the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland – both fairs will be held on September 27-28.

However, according to JWNZ Fair chairman Rolan Park, there are simply not enough retailers/visitors in New Zealand to support two jewellery fairs, especially over the same two days.

“Some 20 years ago, the JWNZ Trade Fair ‘fell over’ because it had become too expensive for exhibitors to participate, with each trying to outdo the other with extravagant and expensive displays,” he said. “ With fewer exhibitors, fewer visitors attended.

“The JWNZ fair was re-established in the late 1980s under the KISS principal – Keep It Simple! And it has worked. It has grown from an initial 32 exhibitors to 2008’s 90 exhibitors. The JWNZ Trade Fair in October 2008 saw the largest number of visitors to ever attend and that was coming off what was a very difficult winter trading period.”

He said that despite the new competition, the JWNZ fair would still go ahead this year as it is “a cost-effective, long-established and industry-recognised fair”.

Meanwhile in a letter to the local jewellery industry on November 20, Expertise Events managing director Gary Fitz-Roy said he decided to launch the Fair after the Jewellers Association of New Zealand (JANZ) asked him to “assess the viability of an international standard trade fair”.

“The success of JANZ as an association, which is affiliated with the larger NZ Retailers Association, has been exceptional and they are now wishing to further strengthen the Association’s position by taking the next step to have a fair that truly represents the needs of retailers in New Zealand,”
he said.

“The New Zealand Jewellery Fair will be a high-class trade exhibition, with complete modular stands as well as custom-built areas,” he said.

“We will also replicate a lot of our recent innovations at the Sydney Fair including a walk-in foyer with full graphics, product showcases, easy registration and feature displays.”

In another letter, dated December 10, Fitz-roy said the Fair’s initial confirmed bookings (with contracts and paid bookings) had exceeded the company’s expectations.

He also said Expertise Events believes that the New Zealand market has outgrown a KISS-style trade event.

“It was right maybe ten years ago, but it’s a new world,” he said. “There is absolutely no reason why the New Zealand jewellery industry cannot perceive itself as of international standard.

“Times have changed,” he said. “Branding has caught-up to the jewellery industry. Exhibitors are concerned about how they present their product, the perception they give their customers and how they present their brand image.”

He said that although the JWNZ fair may be “cheaper” than the Expertise Events fair, “but for many, throwing down some jewellery on a table is no longer good enough”.

“Whilst price is important, it is only one thing,” he said.

“The fact is all of us want to offer our product in an up-market environment that reflects the offerings and margin that we all want to gain from it. To do that means we have to spend money to make money, and for many savvy marketers – first impressions last – they would rather be seen as progressive and innovative.”

“All we are doing is offering New Zealand suppliers a choice between – a new style and world standard trade event or an event that admits it is – a KISS style (Keep It Simple, Stupid) trade event.”