Responsible for jewelry events at UBM Asia, Wolfram Diener, senior vice president of the exhibition colossal, has 18 years experience in the industry. Following studies in applied business management in Germany, his professional career begins in Asia as CEO of Messe Frankfurt in Hong Kong. He tells Preziosa magazine about how he envisions the international fair calendar where UBM Asia is positioned with numerous events already consolidated and two announcements: Freiburg, where the first edition was held in 2014 and confirmed for next year, and Singapore, kicking off in a few days (October 23 to 26). “A new fair is like a new car: you are never 100% sure it is the right one”: this is how Diener talks about news at UBM. Here’s what he says.
Which is the role of UBM Asia in the worldwide trade fair calendar?
UBM Asia is the Asian affiliate of UBM plc., a worldwide operating B2B media company with strong focus on exhibitions. UBM is one of the world’s largest exhibition organizers and serving around 30 different business communities. UBM Asia is the largest private organizer in China, Hong Kong and other Asian countries and producing many world-leading events such as for the jewellery trade.
Though the majority of UBM Asia’s business is naturally on the Asian continent, an engagement in a business project outside of Asia is also possible as our Asian team has the know-how or owns a brand which is marketing globally.
Which are your comments following the debut of the new fairs in Singapore and Freiburg?
We were very pleased with the launch of JGF Europe in Freiburg. The large majority of exhibitors was satisfied and confirmed to return in 2015. As it is normal for any first event, there are aspects which were not exactly as we expected and need further improvement. But the jewellery trade applauded UBM for this initiative and is as confident as we are that JGF Europe will have a bright future.
The launch of the Singapore Jewellery & Gem Fair can also be considered a success whilst the circumstances have been very different from the launch in Freiburg. Singapore itself is a prosperous, sophisticated even though small market, but also important is the fact that many wealthy individuals travel to and spend time in Singapore. I do not only refer to the patrons of casinos but also to many individuals from neighbouring countries who keep their assets in Singapore.
In both cases Freiburg and Singapore I would like to emphasize that we launched these events only after strong encouragement from the jewellery trade. It is not like us sitting within our four walls and just trying to guess. Every of our launches is the result of lengthy and intense surveys and consulting.
At the end, UBM is a service provider, and we can only be successful if we serve a business community in their best interest.
How is evolving the demand of the exhibitors compared to the fairs offer?
The fact alone that JGF Europe could record bookings from hundreds of reputable exhibitors just a few months after the announcement of the fair is already a strong enough testament that the demand for such a trading platform is there.
We are convinced that a jewellery and gem fair catering the middle to higher end market segment and with direct sales opportunity is what the European jewellery trade was looking for.
We are mindful of limiting the proportion of Asian exhibitors in order to provide appropriate exposure for European manufacturers. And we also capped the number of diamond suppliers since we try to provide the mix of products which the market is likely wanting to source.
Which are the improvements, if any, to make in order to better align demand and offer?
The launch of any new exhibition is a little bit like the launch of a new car model. You might have faith in the quality of the manufacturer, but at the end of the day you don’t know by 100% whether the newly introduced model is exactly up to your expectations. And it probably comes with a few technical hick-ups and details which need further improvement. Critical is that all areas of improvement are recognized, analyzed and improvement made accordingly for the second edition.
As organizer of JGF Europe we have openly admitted that the number of audience was not up to expectations, though exhibitors complimented us that quality and internationality of buyers were high. So, we know we have to enhance the visitor promotion and actions are being taken to draw more buyers for the 2015 event.
Is the Asian market still representing the future for the jewellery industry?
The Asian market is expected to keep on recording relatively higher growth rates in terms of GDP and consumption compared to other parts of the world. Consequently Asia will remain an attracting market for the jewellery trade. And as for Hong Kong, being an open port and an easily accessible and international destination, at the doorsteps of China, will remain compelling factors in the foreseeable future.
Hong Kong and surroundings have a very large jewellery manufacturing base, moreover this is the premier Asian trading hub for fine jewellery, diamonds, gemstones and pearls. In addition to free trade policy in Hong Kong, these are all ideal conditions for UBM’s jewellery fairs and whilst we consequently grow our business elsewhere, Hong Kong will be a place where we keep on increasing the scale and product scope of our jewellery fairs.
Which are the targets of UBM Asia in the next 2 years?
In the coming two years we will further develop our existing fairs in Hong Kong by adding new features and segments. We plan to launch new events in China and India and meanwhile keep studying overseas markets. We love working with the Italian industry because they are very innovative and sophisticated. Hopefully, and in cooperation with our Italian partners from Studio Arati, UBM could work even closer with Italian companies in discovering new business opportunities.