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We need to look at the format of our buying meetings, admits CMJ chairman

The chairman of the Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ), Michael Aldridge, has told Retail Jeweller that the group plans to look at the current format of its buying meetings and reassess whether they are the right for the organisation’s members and suppliers going forward.

Speaking at the CMJ trade event held in Birmingham on August 5-6, Aldridge said the business was “reviewing its trade events as they stand at the moment”.

“We will be doing a piece of work on whether we should have a trade event, I am sure the answer to that would be yes,” said Aldridge.

“Whether we need to have two is certainly a question that keeps coming up or maybe we could have one at a different time of the year?”

Aldridge admitted that all trade shows have been impacted by a drop in footfall in recent years and that the way people buy has fundamentally changed so the CMJ must work to find a solution to address this.

This review hasn’t started yet and so Aldridge would not be drawn on timings for any proposed changes although he did say that, in his view, the CMJ would always need to provide some sort of event for its members and suppliers

michael aldridge colour

Michael Aldridge

“I still think it is really important that people are able to come to something and actually look at product and engage with other people because I don’t think it is possible to do that in a virtual way I don’t believe,” he added.

“I think there will always be some kind of trade event but maybe we have to modernise slightly and do it in a different way. People do unfortunately get bored and we need to re-engage them to make sure they want to come to whatever it is we are going to put on.”

When questioned on whether he believed that the CMJ currently has too many suppliers for the number of members in the group, Aldridge admitted that this would also be reviewed with the board looking at every supplier contract and the products and services they offer.

“Over the years suppliers have added new products and they have diversified and that could be one of the reasons why people are saying we have got too many suppliers, so we are going to look at that.

“We are also very mindful of any new suppliers we take on, is there a gap in the market, do they offer something different for our members. Whether we have got too many suppliers or are we just duplicating too many times, I don’t know because we haven’t finished that piece of work yet.”

Aldridge was quick to reassure both members and suppliers that the CMJ is in a much stronger position than it was 12 months ago, having refocussed the business.

“We have cleared the decks and CMJ is going back to what it used to do very well and that is to be an independent member buying group.”

In the coming months the group would place a renewed focus on identifying and recruiting new retail members into CMJ, he added.

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