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"Indian jewellers, especially those with heritage, have massive potential as brands themselves"

Mr Siddhartha Sacheti, CEO - Jaipur Gems

Feb 22, 2018 14:49

Jaipur Gems is one of India's largest producers and exporters of gems and jewellery. It has an international presence via retail stores, and has won multiple international awards for jewellery design. Mr Siddhartha Sacheti, CEO – Jaipur Gems talks about how efforts of India's gems and jewellery sector must focus on branding that leverages the sector's rich history and heritage in an exclusive discussion with IBEF. Edited excerpts:

From its inception in 1974, Jaipur Gems has come a long way. What has been the company’s key to success, especially in such a competitive sector?

Our focus on design and quality has contributed significantly to our growth and recognition amongst consumers in India as well as the Indian diaspora abroad. Also, the quality of customer service we provide—from sales, to polishing, to resetting, and even reselling—has help us build our brand and stand out from the competition. At the end of the day, the design, quality of raw materials used, and the finish of the product remain Jaipur Gems' most distinguishing factors.

The Indian gems and jewellery sector is massively important, for both the domestic market as well as exports. But, do you think the sector has reached a saturation point in terms of how much it can grow? Is there still a lot of untapped potential?

I think there is great potential in the sector and it is far from saturation. So far, the Indian gems and jewellery industry has mostly been treated as an outsourcing hub for Western brands. Indian jewellers, especially those with heritage, have massive potential as brands themselves, which can be leveraged quite significantly around the world. If the Government of India supports promotion of domestic brands rather than merely projecting the sector for its outsourcing prowess, the jewellery heritage of the country can receive a global spotlight. Domestic brands—like Jaipur Gems—do our bit, but it is possible to achieve even greater heights. At the moment, exports from India have very little value-add, which has to change with efficient use of branding, marketing, etc. by the brands. This will also greatly aid the Government's efforts to promote the sector on a global level.

There is plenty of growing competition from other countries trying to position themselves as the gems and jewellery hub of south and south-east Asia. What should the government be doing to protect the Indian jeweller’s interests?

The Indian gems and jewellery sector has to make a stout effort to push their own interests. If the sector's interest is focused on a few percentage gains of the global market, there is not a lot that the Government can do to help. The Government may be able to provide subsidies (tax rebates, cheap land, etc.) for the next four or five years, but ultimately it is Indian jewellers who have to push their brand across the globe in order to draw in larger revenues. There is no lack of jewellery companies investing in manufacturing and riding the outsourcing wave—this mentality has to change if the sector wants to make the most of aid received from the Government. Without building a model that provides value-addition, long-term subsidies from the Government will become unsustainable.

Indian jewellers positioning themselves as international brands is vital. For example, Jaipur Gems has a store in Dubai where we sell under our own brand name. We sell gold jewellery at a higher rate than most jewellers in Dubai, but because we have spent a lot of time, effort and money on creating the brand as well as marketing, customers are more than willing to pay the higher asking price. Efforts from the Government within India is not enough—the Indian gems and jewellery industry has to make efforts build a brand image and to maximise revenue overseas. They must think beyond 'Make in India'; they must think of 'Design in India'.

Jaipur Gems already has an international presence. What more can we expect from the company in the future?

With regards to expansion, I feel that we are already well-diversified as a company. Eight years ago we ventured into the e-commerce space with, selling gems and jewellery online. It has done exceedingly well, and Tanishq by Tata currently has a 60% stake in it. Such a partnership with an international conglomerate like Tata speaks a lot about who we are as a brand. We continue to remain keen on building Jaipur Gems' brand value and brand presence, within India as well as across the world. That remains at the core of our vision—invest heavily in quality and branding.

Under your leadership, the company has managed to go from strength to strength. What advice would you have for entrepreneurs/investors trying to make in this industry?

Always concentrate on the finished quality of the product—no matter what, the quality and finish of the product should never be compromised. If the end product is fabulous, it will be the best advertisement for your brand. Also, this is a sector where even the smallest things add up to deliver big results, so never skimp over the small stuff.

Keep an eye on the millennial market. Millennials the world over have a lot of disposable income and are not afraid to spend it. They do not see jewellery purely as an investment opportunity or instrument of stature, as generations before did. A millennial will invest him/herself emotionally when purchasing gems and jewellery, and appealing to this generation is an exciting prospect. This is where the gems and jewellery sector can expect to experience a truly massive swell.