Embellishing Women

Jewellery has been a part of Indian women\'s culture for ages; Gitanjali Group has further strengthened its hold in the segment for over 50 years. Mr. Mehul Choksi, CMD, Gitanjali Group, talks to us about the importance of jewellery segment in the country
Mehul Choksi

Jewellery has been a part of Indian women's culture for ages; Gitanjali Group has further strengthened its hold in the segment for over 50 years. Mr. Mehul Choksi, CMD, Gitanjali Group, talks to us about the importance of jewellery segment in the country.

Aadeetya Sriram (AS): How long have you been operating?
Mehul Choksi (MC): Gitanjali Group is one of the world’s largest integrated diamond and jewellery manufacturer-retailers with an annual turnover of nearly US$ 2 billion. The India based group was established in 1966 and today its activities -- from sourcing and processing rough diamonds to manufacturing, branding and retailing gold and diamond jewellery are spread across the entire value chain and all across the globe.

AS: Where do you have your manufacturing units in the country?
We have diamond manufacturing facilities at Hyderabad, Mumbai and Surat; and jewellery manufacturing facilities at Mumbai, Coimbatore, Surat, Kolkata and Hyderabad.

AS: What is the marketing strategy for your brands?
After the pioneering launch of Gili, the first branded jewellery line in India way back in 1994, Gitanjali Group has introduced a number of other brands for different consumer segments and needs. The communications and marketing strategy for each of the brands is appropriate to its positioning and target group. Each of these brands has a brand ambassador, usually a Bollywood celebrity who further strengthens the consumer connects with the brand. Besides the print and TV campaigns, brands also organisee and hosts special events – fashion shows, entertainment evenings, contests and tie-ups to further consolidate the relationship with the target consumer.

AS: Could you elaborate on the design technology you have implemented?
Our design department brings together a combination of human skills and advanced technology. The teams (different for specific brands and specific markets) are headed by professionally trained designers – usually graduates from leading institutes like NIFT, SNDT etc, and they are supported by a team of 15-20 CAD experts. The designers have a detailed knowledge of various jewellery making techniques and current global design and fashion trends. Special teams focus on specific markets – India, USA, Japan, Europe, Middle East, etc.

AS: What is the trend of jewellery that consumers prefer currently?
India was traditionally a gold jewellery consuming country, but modern, younger consumers have shown a marked preference for diamond studded jewellery. The diamond designs are more contemporary and have an international look and feel.  Also where jewellery purchases were strongly influenced by the investment motive, now fashion and look have become important too; also jewellery buying is no longer restricted to weddings and occasions but is also for daily wear, work wear, casual social functions etc. While heavier gold jewellery, or large diamond jewellery pieces are more suited for the weddings and occasions purchases, smaller, lightweight pieces with a relatively lower diamond content are suited for the daily – work wear -- casual category.

AS: What is your export scenario, India’s role in export, comment?
Gitanjali is one of India’s leading exporters of diamonds and diamond jewellery and there is great potential for India to grow its business in this segment, particularly by expanding jewellery exports. Gitanjali is also exporting well known Indian brands - Nakshatra, Asmi, Gili, D’damas etc, to the overseas markets.

AS: You have a lot of procedural mechanism set-up in place? Do you have any training for the same?
Yes, we have a specialised HR department which organises training and development programmes as appropriate.

AS: Your future plans for Gitanjali Group?
Rapid expansion of the branded jewellery business both in India and abroad, extension into the luxury lifestyle retailing, particularly in India and the development of a 171-acre sector specific special economic zone (SEZ) at Hyderabad are some of the key projects. In India, each jewellery brand is expanding through the rapid development of a franchisee network, while Indian and international brands are both being marketed abroad. After the recent acquisition of key Italian brands, the Group plans to take the Made in Italy brand to international markets, with special branded stores. Recently it has also ventured into the luxury lifestyle sector in India under the banner of Gitanjali Lifestyle. It runs the Giantti Luxury Ensemble for high end Indian and international jewellery brands, and a chain of department stores, Maya by Gitanjali Lifestyle retailing jewellery, watches, apparel and other fashion accessories for the woman of today. A further pioneering step is the group’s foray into setting up a sector specific Special Economic Zone (SEZ), a 171-acre Hyderabad SEZ and the first unit has already begun functioning.

Mehul Choksi