Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ) is looking to boost membership further after strong recent growth
BIRMINGHAM, England, September, 2013 – Willie Hamilton, Chief Executive of the Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ), who leads the UK and Ireland’s biggest buying group of independent jewellery retailers, is looking for membership to rise further after seeing strong growth since he took over as CEO. He speaks to Jewellery Outlook before the CMJ hosts a UK jewellery business conference in Birmingham on October 8-9, 2013.
Q. How would an independent retail jeweller in the UK and Ireland benefit from joining the CMJ?
WH: Our membership is a broad church and includes some of the most dynamic and forward-thinking established traditional family jewellers and contemporary jewellery retailers in the country.
Our members benefit from being part of a collective, where they can share knowledge and opinions with their industry peers, without losing any of their independence. The networking opportunities are what members find the most beneficial once they join, on top of the obvious benefits of exclusive terms with suppliers, specialist training and marketing support and access to all CMJ events including our bi-annual Trade Events and the UK Jewellery Conference.
Q. What does an independent retailer have to do in order to be able to join the CMJ?
WH: We welcome applications from all independent retail jewellers in the UK and Ireland. Once we have received the applications we then assess the businesses on an individual basis to ensure they are solvent and that they trade within our own code of ethics.
Q. Has the CMJ’s membership grown in recent years?
WH: Yes, it has grown substantially since I took over as chief executive – and we are looking to grow our membership further still. We now have 140 members representing some 250 shops.
Q. How has this growth benefited existing retail members of the CMJ?
WH: Growth of our membership gives us more collective strength, which gives us more power in terms of negotiation, wider networking opportunities and also means that we can organise large events for our members and suppliers, such as the UK Jewellery Conference, which is now in its second year.
Q. Do you plan to increase the number of suppliers to CMJ and build a more international cross-section of suppliers?
WH: We are always looking for exciting new suppliers from around the world, which is why the CMJ Executive Team visits international trade shows. They have to be the right suppliers and offer something unique to our members. For example, we took on Annamaria Cammilli at BASELWORLD this year and our own exclusive Canadian Diamond range Arctic Circle through our partnership with HRA. Both have had lots of interest and orders from CMJ members at our last Trade Event in August.
Q. What are your plans to develop the two annual CMJ trade events in future years?
WH: Our CMJ Trade Events have grown beyond all recognition into the professional buying meetings that they are today. We are currently in talks about how we can develop these further to maximise opportunities for suppliers and ensure that our members continue to see them as worthwhile events that showcase new and exciting product in a stimulating buying environment.
Q. The CMJ will host a jewellery business conference at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole on October 8 and 9. How will this event benefit the retail members of CMJ?
WH: The conference is all about bringing the industry – suppliers and members – together to learn from each other and share information. Nobody else does this on a large scale and I really believe the CMJ Business Conference will bring great benefit to the UK industry. Every member that attended the conference last year said that it was an invaluable experience. This year not only will they hear from inspirational speakers such as Karren Brady (businesswoman and media personality) on day one, but day two is all about splitting our retailers and suppliers into smaller groups to talk about hot topics in the industry, sharing information and reaching conclusions.
Last year there was a lot of buzz around this and by extending the opportunity to our suppliers, we are looking forward to seeing and hearing the results of the initiative.