Think out of Box to Promote Jewellery: Ishu Datwani

Ishu DatwaniAnmol Jewellers was founded by Mr. Ishu Datwani in 1986. His passion is the premier driving force behind this celebrated jewellery brand. His journey with jewels and gems began when he successfully pursued a course at the gemological institute whilst in college as a student of commerce. Soon after, Mr. Ishu started soliciting business while still studying.

From humble beginnings 29 years ago, he made headway into the jewellery business with a firm resolve to create a label to reckon with. He had no godfathers or advisors; all that he had was a heart filled with hope and a determined mind set.

Here we go with Mr. Ishu Datwani’s exclusive interview given to G2J.

G2J: What are trends among jewellery lovers these days?

I.D.: The popular trends among jewellery lovers these days are a) Classic designs in jewellery b) The craftsmanship should be very good, which includes the weight, flexibility and finish and c) Light weight jewellery pieces rather than heavier pieces.

G2J: What is the USP of your products and why do you think people will buy them?

I.D.: Our USP is ‘Design’. Classy, with an understated elegance – is what defines our designs and excellence in ‘Design’ is what sets us apart from the crowd. When we talk of excellence in design, we also mean excellence in craftsmanship & finish, which is an inherent part of design.

G2J: What is your marketing strategy to achieve a desired growth when platinum has become cheaper than gold?

I.D.: Although platinum has become cheaper than gold, in India, gold is still the most sought after metal. 22 K pure jewellery can only be made in gold and those traditional buyers will never shift to platinum. Platinum can only work in diamond jewellery and there is a very niche market for it. As such, we don’t have a very specific marketing strategy to overcome the growth of platinum because we don’t think we have reached a stage where we need to feel threatened by platinum. In fact, we do stock platinum jewellery as well for people who prefer buying platinum jewellery.

G2J: What was your Company’s last year’s growth and what growth targets have you set for the current year?

I.D.: Our Company’s growth last year was very insignificant. We did manage to grow by about 3% last year, which was a relief in a way, because at one point of time  we were not sure if we would be able to achieve even the previous year’s turnover as the market didn’t seem favorable & conducive to growth. This year too, the market does not seem positive for growth, but I do expect the latter half of the year to be better and I am hoping this year we grow by atleast 10%, if not more.

G2J: What are your expectations from the government? Is PAN card provision really affecting your sales?

I.D.: Although the PAN card provision has not yet been enforced, once it is implemented, it will definitely make an impact for the negative. A lot of people in India don’t have a PAN card, so it will be very difficult for us to sell to those who buy in the 1 lac – 5 lac category & those who don’t have a PAN Card.

G2J: Do you think the Indian government’s policies are supportive to the growth of the jewellery industry? How?

I.D.: I personally feel that the Government does have a nice attitude towards businessmen & there is also a better understanding of the jewellery industry. Even though the PAN Card provision is creating a hindrance for us, there is a larger interest & thought process of trying to curtail black money, which has brought about this legislation, which we must respect. But apart from this, the Government is thinking forward with other important initiatives for the jewellery industry. The idea of monetizing of gold seems to be a very interesting idea, but we will only know how beneficial it is once all the details are clarified and the scheme is actually implemented. Going forward, I do feel that this Government will atleast listen to us with more patience and understanding and will work towards helping not only the jewellery industry, but all other industries grow.

G2J: How does Indian jewellery fare in international markets? What are your suggestions to increase India’s jewellery exports?

I.D.: In the last few years, the Indian manufacturing quality has improved to a large extent. Our labour being inexpensive, we are able to compete in terms of pricing and doing reasonably well. Having said that, there is still the upper end of the market which the Italians control and that is where we need to gradually look at ourselves. We are still in the more mass produced categories. But there is definitely an improvement in the finishing of our jewellery and we have managed to reduce the gap between us and the Italians in terms of finish.

G2J: What are the challenges faced by the Indian jewellery industry and what are your suggestions to solve them?

I.D.: There is a lot of competition, for which I don’t think one can blame anybody but the fact that the country has seen a lot of growth in population and the competition is not just limited to the jewellery industry, but it is across most other industries. Other than that, the last one year has been a bit tough for the jewellery industry mainly because there has been a slowdown in the economy because of the global meltdown. The impact of the meltdown was not felt earlier, but it was felt in the last one year. Also, all the bad policies of the previous Government had a cumulative effect, because of which it is going to some time for the new policies to actually show a positive impact. I do think there are other reasons also why the jewellery industry is finding it more difficult to sustain, survive and grow, one of them being the fact that the younger generation is more attracted towards latest electronic gadgets and instruments and jewellery has taken a backseat. I guess we need to be more innovative & think out of the box to promote jewellery among young consumers. We do have an important cultural reason for people to buy jewellery in our country, which is wedding. So we must promote weddings & in a way tempt the young to go back to jewellery.

G2J: What are your Company’s future plans?

I.D.: We are taking one step at a time. We recently opened a store in Delhi in September 2014 and are now focusing on that to stabilize. If some nice franchisee option comes our way, then we are open to that. We would prefer going slow and making sure we are able to sustain our quality and only then expand. We will not expand and compromise on the way we would do our business.

Interview by Suresh Chotai