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Growing from their Indian roots



Having built their brand and reputation in the domestic market, major Indian jewellery retailers are taking advantage of the name-recognition they enjoy among Indians abroad to pursue a path of long-term growth overseas, particularly in the Middle East and North America. And their customers are not all Indian.

“Ours is one of the oldest business families in the country, with a family legacy of 109 years in business. Our forefathers believed in ethical, honest and transparent business practices and that has been the foundation of our group,” says Rajesh Kalyanaraman, executive director, Kalyan Jewellers, one of India’s leading jewellery chains. “Our philosophy has helped us stay ahead of the game and win the trust of millions of customers in India,” he adds, with justifiable pride.

“Naturally, the Middle East, which has a large Indian diaspora, is a market that we wanted to expand into,” says Kalyanaraman. The company recently inaugurated three new stores in the region. “We began our Middle East operations in 2013, opening six showrooms on a single day in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). We are now present in Qatar, Kuwait and Oman. We have a unique set of designs to offer our customers in the Middle East.”

Among the diaspora, the company benefits from its robust brand and reputation. “Kalyan is already a household name, even in a new country or region that we may enter. We are well positioned in the Middle East, with our aggressive marketing and distribution. We have been successful in challenging conventional beliefs, with an extremely successful strategy to position Kalyan as a brand that doesn’t compromise on quality and pays great attention to detail. Our international launches and products have received a phenomenal response in the region. This has helped us strengthen our geographical footprint and customer base here.”

Ameera is one of Kalyan Jewellers’ collections targeted specifically at Indian consumers in the Middle East. “It has been performing remarkably well,” says Kalyanaraman. He notes, however, that such collections appeal to a broad range of expatriate consumers. “We feel that the Asian population — Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Filipinos, Malaysians and so on — in the Middle East will relate to our brand and help expand our customer base in these markets.”

Accordingly the jeweller is investing in a “very aggressive” marketing strategy in the region, showcasing the brand’s reputation and its legacy of trust, honesty and transparency.

“Our most recent launches in Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE were, to borrow a filmy term, blockbuster hits,” says Kalyanaraman. “This kind of encouragement and love from our customers is something we have received over the years in India. We believe we are on the right path to accomplishing our vision of opening stores and delighting customers across the world.”

Long-term planning on this scale does not preclude an intensive focus on the crucial home market. “We are strengthening our domestic operations in India, which has a much larger and very viable consumer base,” says Kalyanaraman. “We feel that Tier-1 and Tier-2 markets in the country are not exploited to their full potential. We aim to open new showrooms in these markets, and explore the possibility of foraying into new states. We also aim to top up our operations in metropolitan cities, like Delhi, where we already have a presence and a large customer base.”

Physically reaching out to all corners of the market is one part of the groundwork that Kalyan Jewellers is laying for the future. Another is creating the kind of customer that appreciates Kalyan’s products and services. “Over the years, we have noticed that an enlightened customer is the best customer,” says Kalyanaraman. “We will conduct campaigns to educate customers about purity, pricing and other aspects of jewellery, in our newer markets across India. This will ultimately help us strengthen our presence and expand our base.”

Another renowned Indian jewellery chain, PNG Jewellers, is also engaged in expanding its overseas footprint, but in the United States market. “Our store in Pune was often visited by NRIs enquiring about our products,” says Saurabh Gadgil, chairman and managing director of PNG Jewellers, explaining the genesis of the US foray. “Many of them suggested that we open a store in the US as there was huge demand for Indian jewellery in that country.”

Unfortunately, PNG opened in Americain 2008 —just in time to face the terrible economic downturn. Instead of raking in profits, says Gadgil, “The first couple of years we spent on studying the market and establishing our brand.”

It was evidently time well spent. “We try to do ‘local’ things over there,” says Gadgil. “Our sales force is trained to speak in English and Spanish as well as Tamil, Marathi and other Indian languages.” PNG in the USA serves a large number of customers of Indian origin, but it also serves people of many other backgrounds.

Today, PNG operates two stores in California and one in New Jersey. With an eye on the future, Gadgil says that the company is interested in major cities like Atlanta, Georgia, and Chicago, Illinois, which have ample potential for market growth. But it is also looking beyond bricks-and-mortar.

“The US market is more social media–centric,” says Gadgil, “so we keep our customers informed through social media posts and emails. American consumers’ all-encompassing engagement with the Internet means that going online in the US market is good not just for publicity for also online sales, even in the jewellery category. “We are planning to go deep, online,” he says, “as that is where the majority of people shop.”

Courtesy : Manoj Chakraborty / Image : Retail Jeweller India News Service

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