Over 200 delegates attend CMJ conference

By Hallie Engel

The UK Jewellery Conference, held last week in Birmingham, was hosted for the second time by The Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ) and has received praise from attendees.

The two-day event was visited by over 200 delegates, which included CMJ retail members and approved suppliers. The first day featured presentations by business leader and the newly appointed government advisor for small businesses, Karren Brady. Former head of John Lewis’ customer service Andrew McMillan also presented, advising retailers about the importance of customer engagement.

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For the first time, miners from Peru, Bolivia and Colombia spoke about the importance of Fairtrade gold. The miners were joined by Alan Frampton, director of UK ethical jeweller CRED, and Greg Valerio, Fairtrade International Gold Programme co-ordinator, who discussed growing international demand for ethical goods and said the target for Fairtrade Gold in the UK is to provide 15 tonnes within 15 years.

On the second day, delegates split into groups to discuss and share solutions to industry critical issues. Retailers shared their knowledge on branding, HR, and online sales, while CMJ suppliers broke into groups to speak about topics vital to their work, including the challenges of selling directly to consumers and protecting British design. All groups were overseen by professional facilitators, who guided the debates.

John Ball, sales director of Brown & Newirth, stated: "Well done to the CMJ for putting on such a wonderful two day event. I hope that the board can get sign off for next year’s event pretty quickly as this should become the annual ‘must attend’ event in the UK jewellery calendar."

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