Rapaport Magazine

Antwerp

By Marc Goldstein
A People Business

The fifth edition of the Antwerp Diamond Manufacturers and Traders Fair, held July 1 on the Antwerp bourse’s trading floor, was praised by the city’s traders for providing opportunities to close deals face-to-face, identify new suppliers and new buyers and strengthen business and personal relationships in the industry. The daylong Antwerp Meets Antwerp (AMA) event attracted 44 exhibitors and approximately 400 attendees.
   The simple fact of filling up the trading floor with diamantaires created business and led to a much better vibe in the local diamond market. Many exhibitors and attendees said the event brought them back to the fact that essentially, diamonds are a people business. While everyone uses technology, the internet and modern business tools, those trading diamonds like to deal with people they trust and people who are professionals.

Everyone’s Welcome
   Regarding the size and the type of companies that the most recent AMA attracted, Marcel Pruwer, president of the Beurs voor Diamanthandel, the formal name of Antwerp’s bourse, said, “We have a fairly good mix of small, medium and large companies, and although this most recent edition did see a slanting toward smaller and medium-sized companies, that will always fluctuate.”
   “Every company, including the smallest ones, should attend,” said Yossi Moses of Y.S Moses Israel. “It’s very important to be there. I’ve been in Antwerp for 12 years now, and AMA shows that there are so many more people to discover. Since the first edition of AMA, every time I’ve been there, I’ve bought goods from new suppliers. These are real purchases. It’s not just making contacts or exchanging business cards. So this works.”

Forum for Closing Deals
   “Several exhibitors commented that they bought, sold or both bought and sold goods, including some substantial business that was done,” said Pruwer. “Both exhibitors and buyers/visitors said that they found the networking very useful, with people making appointments to meet up after the event to see goods, people finding new suppliers and people renewing contact with old suppliers.”
   Michael Ender of Alpilex Diamond Manufacturing added that “First of all, as a new member of the bourse, showing my face and introducing myself is important and this platform facilitates this process. Traders, brokers, suppliers… all see who is representing our company and they finally get to put a face on the voice they often hear only on the phone. And the same is true for me. Whereas I usually contact companies by phone, this was an opportunity for me to meet the same people face to face.”
   One indication of the effectiveness of the Antwerp Meets Antwerp event is that many of the participants were return exhibitors. “We have participated in all the editions of the fairs and we definitely gained new sales contacts,” said John Varghese of Mishal Manufacturing. “The fairs help establish better rapport between the local companies and become a source for improved contacts.”
   Yan Li, of Silk Road Diamonds, attending as a buyer, insisted, “There’s no doubt the endeavor is positive. We know many people, for sure, but even then, you don’t always know what the people you know have in their vaults, and they also aren’t always aware of the goods we’re looking for. So, we definitely intend to be present at all future editions.”

Modeling after Antwerp
   Since the very beginning, when Antwerp rolled out its first fair in 2010, the event has been a success, both within the city’s own industry and with bourses around the globe. Pruwer said that the event is a way to “leverage our trading hall, our members and our goods.”
   Other diamond centers have reportedly scheduled similar events in their bourses. As to whether that is a threat or a good sign, Ender said, “I don’t believe it is a threat. The business has become global. And diamond centers are interconnected. I do not think it is a zero-sum game. On the contrary, one prosperous market can uplift the other.”
   This edition of AMA occurred less than two weeks after Antwerp hosted the 36th World Diamond Congress, so the observations by Pruwer on the state of the industry were understandably far ranging. “For the future of the international diamond industry, there are many things that can and will be done to strengthen the business all the way through the pipeline, ranging from streamlined supply chain dynamics, increased financing, better product design and development and a new image building, industry branding program… as well as selective generic advertising,” he said.
   As for the AMA event itself, perhaps the next step, suggested Ender, should be “having one diamond center meet the other, maybe an event like Antwerp Meets New York.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - August 2014. To subscribe click here.

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