Interview by Blanka Pionkowska – editor of the jewelry blog KINGY.PL and above all a passionate about the world of jewellery, who willingly shares her knowledge and experience of jewellery world.
After a long break in the trade fairs in the world of jewelry caused by the COVID-19 virus, the PB Group team have decided to organize the 13th edition of JUBINALE Jewellery and Watches trade fair. It was very brave but at the same time desired decision by jewellery industry. I spoke to the team of the Organizers – Beata Kołodziejska, Ewa Orzechowska and Andrzej Sadowski – about what problems had to be faced and what was the outcome of this exhibition.
Was organizing a trade fair during a pandemic a big challenge?
Yes, it was not a simple task – admits Andrzej Sadowski, director of JUBINALE. Especially because we had less than a month to prepare and react to new restrictions and recommendations regarding the fair but we succeeded. Together with the EXPO Kraków team, we have developed and implemented sanitary regulations, which took into account the guidelines of the Regulation of the Council of Ministers and the Chief Sanitary Inspector. The most important were: an order to wear masks in the fairgrounds, limiting the number of visitors to 1 person per 4m2, measuring the temperature of each participant at the entrance to the facility and mandatory hand disinfection. In addition, each exhibitor received a disinfectant liquid and a disposable glove package to be able to make them available to buyers before commencing business talks at the stand, and the 5-meter communication routes provided the opportunity to maintain social distance.
What did you fear the most as an organizer with many years of experience?
Despite the experience in organizing jewellery trade fairs it was a completely new challenge for us. No one organized trade fairs in such conditions – we were pioneers. We were very keen on ensuring the safety of trade fair visitors and this was our main concern, notes Ewa Orzechowska, project manager. At the same time, we knew how much work we had put into ensuring all precautions and we were convinced that as long as trade fair participants follow the rules, safety would be maintained. Our fears were also related to the guests turnout because despite marketing activities undertaken, numerous inquiries and registration on e.jubinale system we did not know what to expect – adds Ewa. Already during conversations with Exhibitors, various moods could be felt in the planning process, and how the industry is divided into companies that are not afraid to act and those who prefer to wait out hard times. Ultimately, the number of guests who visited the fair surprised us positively. Although the attendance was lower than usual, it was still proportional to the number of Exhibitors. The largest number of buyers came to the exhibition on the first day.
What caused that despite such a short time for preparation you undertook the trade fair organization?
We have been supporting the jewellery industry with various activities for over 20 years. We can say that this is our company’s mission. So it was natural that we wanted to continue supporting the industry in such hard times, thus also taking financial and health risks – after all, we didn’t know what awaited us – says Beata Kołodziejska, the project manager. Dozens of companies very much supported us in organizing it in June, wanting to return to normal as soon as possible. We just wanted to give an opportunity to companies that are ready to cooperate so that they can meet in safe conditions and take face to face trading activities before the holiday season.
How do you assess the effectiveness of the event during a pandemic? Was it needed by the industry?
I think so – especially for those who were stocked up, could offer new products and wanted to work as before – admits Beata Kołodziejska. This year, gold and silver jewelry experienced exceptional interest which indicates that the industry had a significant need to supplement this range. We have often heard the statement that it was fantastic to be able to go out into the industry again. I would like to add that we were surprised by the thanks and words of appreciation for our work and courage. It was only then that we realized that by taking personal risks, we contributed to bringing the jewelry industry closer again and attempting to take a normal course of action. We were the first B2B fair in Poland after the restrictions were taken down!
Have only local Exhibitors and Merchants visited the trade fair?
Despite the situation, visitors to JUBINALE came not only from all over Poland but also from Slovakia, Lithuania, Italy, the Czech Republic, China, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland and Turkey – says Ewa Orzechowska. It was the result of our many years of work and contacts with the international trade fair industry. In addition, we prepared a full package of information for exhibitors and guests on crossing EU borders. So although on a much smaller scale, the fair was still held in an international group.
Mr. Andrzej Sadowski also pointed the fact that so far usually several people from one company visited the fair. This year the number of people from one company was very limited. In most cases, it was only one person, thanks to which the buyers consciously minimized mutual risk and limited the number of people in the hall, while they were very decisive and competent in making jewelry purchases.
What were the impressions of the companies participating in the fair?
During the talks with Exhibitors the vast majority expressed their satisfaction with the decision to participate in this year’s JUBINALE. The companies were aware of the risk they were taking but the possibility of selling the product directly in professional market conditions was also important – admits Beata Kołodziejska. Few people were surprised that the fair was organized on a much smaller scale. Everyone expected major changes and accepted them with great understanding and openness. However, some exhibitors offering amber and jewellery with amber could have felt unsatisfied – there is currently a large supply of amber, and the demand has decreased a lot, if only due to difficulties in traveling for Chinese citizens and significantly reduced tourist traffic, which contributes to lower sales in stores in Europe and the world.
The organization of the first trade fair in Poland after loosening the restrictions was a very brave step – did you encounter any difficulties as an organizer, which was difficult to apply?
It wasn’t a simple task indeed. As I mentioned, no one before us has organized trade fair in such conditions, so we didn’t have the opportunity to be inspired by someone else’s achievements. At the same time, other trade fair centers watched our activities. There was one priority – safety! That is why we spent many hours on logistics planning of the fair in terms of protecting participants and applying the recommendations of the Chief Sanitary Inspector – says Andrzej Sadowski. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone on behalf of our entire team for cooperation and understanding for the restrictions introduced, as well as for the fact that each participant contributed to the fact that JUBINALE was organized for everyone in a safe and pleasant atmosphere.
I also thank the entire PB Group team, which has worked hard for joint success, which resulted in a difficult but satisfactory edition of JUBINALE 2020.
What conclusions come to mind after the fair?
It was a very interesting experience for both our team and companies cooperating with us. A challenge that required great flexibility and understanding of the multidimensional problems of companies – says Beata Kołodziejska. The organization of JUBINALE this year, despite many dilemmas and uncertainties, was the right decision. JUBINALE gave companies hope to return to normality, and directly contributed to the possibility of selling and buying goods. Every personal thank you from Exhibitors confirmed us that it is worth fighting to the end, even in difficult and challenging times.
What are your plans for the future?
Normal activities! Unless legal prohibitions arise we plan to return to normal operation. The publication of PB Katalog 2021 is ahead of us, followed by Jubinale CHRISTMAS organization, and then by preparations for the 14th edition of JUBINALE, Andrzej Sadowski explains.
Ewa Orzechowska: We believe that it will be happier than 13th edition and Krakow fairgrounds will shine with the former splendor of jewelry!
Thank you very much for the interview. I also congratulate you on your personal courage and wish you all the best with your further plans!