Nationwide Jewellers’ annual Timeout Conference ended on Sunday with buyers and suppliers alike making the journey to Yanuca Island in Fiji.
The buying group represents 376 members and 420 stores across three countries, with 306 members in Australia, 69 in New Zealand and one in Fiji.
Approximately 150 attendees took part in this year’s conference and national membership manager Erin Keller described it as an overwhelming success.
“The conference has exceeded our expectations, with more members than we anticipated bringing their families and adding additional days to their stay for a well-earned rest in the warm weather,” she said.
“Both members and suppliers have expressed how much they enjoy Nationwide conferences because of the community value, education and networking provided. There is a common opinion that the culture of our events provides inclusivity and support for both sides; suppliers and members.”
Managing director Colin Pocklington delivered his eagerly anticipated annual industry update, covering the expansion of the industry since 2020.
The presentation also included a detailed analysis of the economic factors that will influence the market in 2023 and beyond.
One page is all you need
There was one small hiccup when a guest speaker suddenly became unavailable leaving a last-minute problem to solve.
Expertise Events managing director Gary Fitz-Roy was asked to step in and deliver an address.
His presentation given the next morning was dedicated to the ‘one-page business plan’ concept, a simple idea about distilling the ambitions and motivations of a business into a single-page document which employees and managers can easily refer to at all times.
Keller said the presentation was well-received by attendees especially given Fitz-Roy had not planned to be speaking.
Fitz-Roy said the one-page business plan was a practice that had provided immeasurable value to his business.
“Everyone knows that in business you need to stick with a plan; however, it’s easy to get lost in all the extra detail and daunting paperwork,” he said.
“I went through this concept for the first time with my business not too long ago and the impact has been significant. We are constantly referring to that ‘one page’ when making key decisions and it keeps everyone on the straight and narrow and working towards a common goal.
“Sharing that blueprint was a pleasure and I think it went down well, the feedback we got speaking with the buyers and suppliers was very positive.”
All things equal
Attendees have praised the event for striking a healthy balance between buyers and suppliers.
Too many sellers at a single event leads to business becoming too thinly spread. Feedback was also positive regarding the deals available to retailers.
Mark McAskill, managing director of Mark McAskill Jewellery, was quick to offer his praise to the organisers.
“We were happy with our sales results. Nationwide always put a lot of effort trying to make the day successful for both suppliers and buyers,” he told Jeweller.
“They make sure not to ‘over invite’ suppliers and they take steps to entice their members to stay on the buying floor by offering travel prizes and a range of gifts. This seems to help.”
“The mood seemed positive and we have managed to stay busy so far this year.”
Good to get away
These conferences aren’t exclusively about business and Keller said the reception to the other activities was pleasing.
“Our ‘Beach Olympics’ including suppliers and members with their children was a lot of fun and the Sunday night dinner with fire twirlers and traditional dancers really impressed,” she said.
“Our welcome function set on a balcony overlooking the lagoon provided numerous opportunities not just for networking, but also plenty of laughs.”
Sparke agreed with Keller and said that after a difficult few years it was pleasing to see so many people moving in the right direction.
“The atmosphere was very upbeat and I think that everyone is realistic about the market we find ourselves in. It can be tough at times, but the advice I find the most helpful was around removing the ‘deadwood’ from your business,” she said.
“It doesn’t matter whether things are going well or not, you always need to be rethinking the way you approach the trade and changing with the times where appropriate. After the pandemic, it really was great to see so many people together.”
Many attendees opted to extend their stay in Fiji to make the most of the travel; however, when they return, their attention will soon turn to the industry’s largest annual gathering, the IJF in August.
As someone more familiar than most with event management, Fitz-Roy said he had tremendous admiration for what the buying group achieved in Fiji.
“I really do tip my hat to Nationwide, the conference was truly first class. They emphasise the ‘inclusive and not exclusive’ nature of the event well,” he said.
“It’s no secret that it’s currently a tough market and there’s an awareness and understanding of that quite generally; however, the atmosphere in Fiji was very, very upbeat and positive and relaxed and you could see that in the exchanges taking place.
“My biggest observation - the thing that took me by surprise the most - was the number of young members with families. It showed that the membership is young and invigorated and it’s a brilliant thing to note for the future of the industry. These members are forward-thinking and looking to expand their business.”
Nationwide will be an important presence at the Sydney Fair and this year they’ll introduce buyers from the Independent Jewellers Organisation (IJO) for the first time.
The two groups recently formed the Global Jewellers Network with The Company of Master Jewellers – representing more than 1,500 independent jewellery stores worldwide.
“Glen Pocklington introduced our 'phygital' concept showing members how to move customers from their physical store and digital presence using the 'research online, purchase offline' theory,” Keller explained.
“We also provided the key retail strategies members need to implement now to increase market share and profitability despite an economic slowdown.”
Sessions covering this concept will take place at the International Jewellery Fair (IJF) in Sydney on 19-21 August.
Robyn Sparke of Stephen Sparke Jewellers told Jeweller that events such as these are of vital importance to her business.
“The word I think best describes how we feel after Fiji is ‘reinvigorated’. It was a fantastic weekend and I was really pleased to catch-up so many young members in particular, with lots of great ideas for the future,” she said.
“Colin’s presentation was excellent, offering insight into the trade well into the future, and I find that information really helps us with forward planning.”