Expertise Events responds to the JAA Fair announcement

Expertise Events Press ReleaseOn May 23, the JAA announced it would be running its own jewellery fair in 2017 but its press release did not…

Expertise Events Press Release
On May 23, the JAA announced it would be running its own jewellery fair in 2017 but its press release did not paint the whole picture. Firstly, after a 25 year relationship with the JAA, Expertise Events was given just 24 hours to agree to a list of demands which has resulted in the JAA announcing its own fair in 2017 and which effectively divides the industry – because it will run on exactly the same days as the traditional Sydney jewellery fair. Many people are asking why?

In the release the JAA makes numerous comments about the need to ‘better do this’ and ‘better do that’ and ‘greater benefits’ and ‘greater opportunities’. Apart from being glaringly short on detail, the only request for change ever received by Expertise Events from the JAA was to pay them substantially more money and include JAA in the name of the event. Apart from this, it seems that they were happy with how the event was managed and quite happy to continue with us provided we paid more money!

The JAA release also referred to ‘the additional profit of an outside organiser’ (implying us) and have since been telling people incorrect amounts paid by us to them. We therefore need to set the record straight. The JAA’s own circulated annual reports show that since 2010 Expertise Events has sponsored the JAA to the tune of just under $600,000. That is the cold hard cash paid by Expertise Events to the JAA!

When you add in other ‘contra and kind’ benefits such as free exhibition space, seminar rooms and our support of the design awards etc, our total financial support of the JAA is more like $700,000 for the past five years. In fact, the same annual reports would show that over the last 15 years Expertise Events has paid the JAA just under $1.8million in sponsorship cash. Again add on the stand space and extras and this figure is over $2 million.

Notwithstanding this, JAA wanted an increase in next year’s sponsorship which would have been as much as a 300% increase in our costs and fees. Even then we were still prepared to discuss new arrangements albeit not with such extreme increases. What the JAA release also doesn’t tell the industry is that not only did it demand an enormous increase in next year’s sponsorship and fees, we were given 24 hours to accept the demands.

To be exact: the JAA’s email outlining its demands was received at 3.19pm on Thursday 5 May and it gave me until 5pm the following day to agree to the substantial increase in our financial support. It should be remembered that 24 hour deadline was for an event in 2017 – still 18 months away. So why it was imperative to agree to demands within 24 hours is most unusual. At the same time they were demanding more fees, the JAA’s own membership has been declining every year. Another demand by the JAA, which I haven’t mentioned, was for fee discrimination between JAA members and non-members.

If we had accepted the JAA demands in this respect it would have meant that jewellery wholesalers who are not JAA members would subsidise the JAA and pay a higher fee to exhibit even though they had decided not to join the JAA. We have always managed the jewellery fair as a whole-of-industry event and not just for the less than 20% who are JAA members or who are exhibitors who felt compelled to join just to get a discount.
Most importantly, the JAA’s press release neglected to state that Expertise Events offered to renew our long standing agreement of 25 years but could not do so within the 24 hour deadline.

What this means is that the JAA will now put members’ funds at risk in order to become an unproven and untested trade fair organiser. I will leave it to you to assess what you thought of their efforts with the 2014 Design Awards! I am sure there will be more to report in the coming weeks but rest assured that we are professionals and will not allow this split to affect the outcome for you at this year’s event. In fact it will inspire us to make it even better, as an indication of what we will provide for you in 2017.

The good news is that by not paying very considerable amounts to the JAA in 2017, Expertise Events is free to run an event that benefits the entire industry and not just the JAA. Our venue will be the purpose-built brand new and highly prestigious International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour!

Our vision for the industry

For years we have supported and encouraged many organisations like the GAA, NCJAV, the Gold & Silversmiths Guild and others. Some years ago Expertise Events offered to help establish and fund a school for Young Jewellers along the line of the Minturn Jewellery School in New Zealand because there was no longer a TAFE course. We were willing to put a lot of money into the project and asked the JAA to direct some of the fees paid to them to support Young Jewellers and apprentices. The JAA declined.

This was the turning point for us in terms of paying an ever-increasing fee to the JAA; if the JAA would not support Young Jewellers who would they support? More recently, in conjunction with the Young Jewellers Group (YJG) we initiated a live bench challenge because we understand jewellery manufacturing and repairs is becoming a lost trade that needs recognition and exposure. The YJG did an excellent job with its activities.

The right space

And what should not be lost is our prestigious NEW venue, in the heart of the city surrounded by hotels that everyone can walk to and from easily. Darling Harbour has always been the perfect location and will be even more prestigious in 2017. And unlike Moore Park, which is not designed for trade exhibitions, given that the halls are littered with support columns, Darling Harbour is fully air-conditioned and presents your product in the right environment.

It’s the New versus the Old – a new world-class and state-of-the-art centre versus the old Moore Park. I thought associations existed to market an industry to end users, research, lobby government and provide education. It should not be up to an event organiser like Expertise Events to do it. Can the JAA show evidence of any tangible positive benefits in these areas or does their latest release do so?

Their latest announcement, which divides the industry, seems to be nothing more than a new way of looking for new income but without any detailed plan for what they will do with it, and in the process further dividing the industry. There are many other points that can be raised however the industry will eventually decide and without the JAA we will have more flexibility, cheaper rates and an opportunity to support other groups that provide real value to different parts of the industry.

Our focus is on delivering this year’s show in August 2016 and building on last year, which was a great success, and ensuring the independent jewellers have an event of world-class status next year – now without the price tag!

I hope that sets some of the record straight and shows the JAA’s decision for what it is.
Yours sincerely,
Gary Fitz-Roy
Managing Director