As jewellers rethink their business strategies to strive in the brave new world that is slowly shaping up from the ramparts of the destruction wreaked by the pandemic, Retail Jeweller speaks to Ahammed MP, Chairman, Malabar Group to find out how Covid has intensified a culture of learning and change within organizations, the leadership lessons learnt and unlearnt and the measures designed to reduce the impact on business from unknown and relatively known risks.
The Retail Jeweller (TRJ): What valuable lessons have you learnt from Covid?
Ahammed MP (AM): First, jewellery retail should be in sync with the changed reality that is the rise of commerce through digital channels. Second, digital communication channels should be leveraged extensively to explore new retail opportunities. Third, we need to develop a collaborative environment so that all the stakeholders in the supply chain continue to work together to keep the business running. Fourth, safety and hygiene for the customer are as important the luxury of a pleasant shopping experience. And finally, as everyone’s marketing budget has taken a hit, we have to think creatively to engage with customers. For example, we organized virtual store launches.
TRJ: What are the business-risks you would like to minimize based on your experience of the pandemic?
AM: We aim to become the world’s largest jeweller with a target to triple its retail network from 250 showrooms in 2018 to 750 outlets by 2023. So, we have taken certain risks that are in stride while pursuing the growth plan. The introduction of our ‘One India One Gold Rate’ plan also involved risks. Having said that, pandemic has taught us to rationalize some operational and management-related risks and we are implementing them. For instance, all our stores across the country were shut down, we quickly switched to online, and bolstered our e-commerce presence to reach out to customers.
TRJ: Has Covid ushered in any new thought in your organization for CSR? Please tell us about it?
AM: Being a socially responsible corporate, we have been supporting a number of social initiatives and organizing various disaster relief initiatives. Through the Malabar Charitable Trust, we have already spent more than Rs 170 crore in healthcare, education, women empowerment and housing for the poor. We intend to continue with many such measures in the future too.
TRJ: What are the changes that you observe in the consumer behaviour and demand patterns?
AM: As gold is enjoying the status of a safe haven, the demand for gold jewellery will grow. Work from home, social distancing, etc. has altered consumer behaviour. As a result, although wearability has become a key preference, post-covid jewellery buyers will also focus on value-for-money jewellery. The demand for jewellery will also be driven by the millennials; a segment that is influenced by social media trends and leans towards innovative creations. Our recent collections bear testimony to this shift.
TRJ: How do you envision the coming decade for the retail business?
AM: The share of organized jewellery retail will continue to grow. Thanks to the budget proposal on gold import duty cut, it will become more compliant and transparent. The successful implementation of our “One India One Gold Rate” plan will prompt the trade to think of introducing uniform gold prices across the country. Although gold jewellery will continue to remain the dominant category, diamond, platinum and gemstones jewellery will also strengthen their traction, banking on new-age fashion sensibilities.
Courtesy: Originally published in The Retail Jeweller India magazine
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