Hong Kong jewellers' group peeved at UK exhibition organiser Informa's move to hold rival trade show in November

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An association of Hong Kong jewellery traders is likely to lose a chunk of revenue from its annual show in November as a rival UK exhibitor has scheduled a similar event in the same month in the city, according to the local group’s top executive.

The near-clash will potentially split the number of participants between the two shows, said Wings Cheung, general manager of Hong Kong Jewelry Manufacturers’ Association (HKJMA), which counts 400 jewellers in the city as members.

For the past 30 years, the HKJMA has had November to itself to stage its main event known as the Hong Kong International Jewelry Show. This year, UK-based exhibition giant Informa Markets has scheduled November 16 to 19 for a special edition of its own show known as Jewellery & Gem World. HKJMA’s show will take place from November 25 to 28.

Both the exhibitions will be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.

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Jewellery shows held in Hong Kong before the pandemic and social unrest were very popular. Photo: Handout

“One thing we can see is that the applications of exhibitors for our show are much slower this year,” said Cheung. He estimates the HKJMA could lose about 20 per cent of the HK$2.5 million (US$320,000) in revenues the show has brought in on average over the past few years.

The convention and exhibition industry contributed over HK$58 billion to the city’s economy in 2018, according to the Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association. However, the sector has been in deep water since February 2020 because of travel restrictions and preventive measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, Stuart Bailey, the association’s chairman said earlier this month.

Almost 140 exhibitions and conferences have been cancelled or postponed since February last year. They were expected to draw over 99,000 companies as exhibitors and more than 4.8 million visitors, according to its report.

Following the acquisition of events organiser UBM in 2018, Informa took over the Jewellery & Gem Asia and Jewellery & Gem World events, held in June and September, respectively. The company is holding these shows after they were cancelled last year owing to travel and social distancing restrictions in Hong Kong.

Under the terms of its contracts with exhibitors, Informa should have held a replacement show within six months of the cancelled event. In the case of cancellation or postponement, Informa agreed to give a notice to exhibitors on the change, HKJMA said.

However, Informa neither postponed the event nor offered any option of refund to exhibitors for an obvious cancellation, it claimed in a statement last month. Informa has instead opted to hold a show in November to the detriment of HKJMA’s event, Cheung added.

“If in 2022 the pandemic is over and businesses realise they were able to weather it and make good sales even without joining any trade shows, that will have repercussions for Informa’s business model,” said Cheung.

Informa, however, insisted the decision to hold its show in November was meant to help the broader industry.

“Our customers have communicated to us that opportunities to generate sales during this isolating pandemic were critical for their businesses,” a company spokesman said.

“We will continue to keep our community up to date with the latest news and information as we get closer to the show,” he added. “If we are unable to run Jewellery & Gem World Hong Kong as an international show, we will consult with our customer community to find the best solution based on their individual business needs.”

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