Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jewelry Shanghai: Visitor Numbers Down but Quality Up

Jewelry Shanghai 2008 concluded Sunday after a weekend-long exhibition that started May 8 at the Shanghai New international Expo Center. On the last day of the show, hours before companies began packing up their booths, foot-traffic was light, mostly made up of members of the public, with a few trade members here and there.

Prominent designs included gold jewelry set with small size diamonds, with a good deal of jade, amber, pearls and precious stone pieces all around. Diamantaires noted good sales of SI+ / D-G goods.

Jane Kao of Taipei, Taiwan-based jewelry wholesale company Bennie Wang Jewelry, exhibiting for the first time at Jewelry Shanghai, remarked that the visitor numbers were much lower than she had expected and that most of the attendees she saw were consumers. The company sells its own designs to retailers, and, although Kao says that the industry members she did meet were interested, sales were “not good.”

“We are mostly here to promote our company and to test if people in Shanghai like our product. We are different from others who sell mass-produced items. Ours are all designed in-house, in small numbers. Nevertheless, I expected to see more people here.” Kao commented that a recent downturn in the Shanghai stock market, as well as overall concern about the economy kept people away.

Anna Tchapovshaia, of Botswana Diamonds, a brand manufactured by DTC Botswana Sightholder DIA Holdings and distributed in China by Trinity Diamond, echoed the sentiment, that most of the attendees they saw were consumers, not trade members. However, despite this she says that the brand is there almost purely for the PR opportunity, and “in terms of this, we’re happy with the show.”

Official visitor numbers were not made available from show organizers.

Raymond Cohen, sales executive of Antwerp-based DTC Sightholder Tache Company NV, emphasized that the relatively sparse crowds at the show didn’t faze him. “Numbers are down, definitely, but the quality of buyers is up,” he says.

Cohen also gave some advice to foreign companies exhibiting in China. “Chinese buyers want a large range of goods. I think a lot of companies come here with a very specific set of goods, that people here may or may not want, but you can’t do that.” When asked how the show is going for him, he said that it is going very well. “It’s simple,” Cohen says. “If you have the goods, it’s fine; if not, it’s not good.” He said most buyers had been interested in everything but SI goods.

Raj Impex Shanghai Limited is a company that has been selling in Shanghai for approximately two years now and that specializes in small goods below 0.30 carat. “Mac,” a sales executive, echoed the complaints of other exhibitors that people were simply not buying. Those that had been buying were mostly Chinese, Japanese and Korean buyers.

He stressed that the show is very small in comparison to others in the region, such as Hong Kong, but that the event is a good opportunity to meet and gain new customers from cities in the Shanghai area that may not come to Hong Kong.

Show organizers said that there were 400 exhibiting companies from China, Hong Kong, India, Belgium, Israel, Taiwan and others. Shanghai, they say, makes up 20 percent of the Chinese jewelry industry’s total sales and is an important distribution and consolidating center for the country’s industry.

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