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Phygital, tech adoption and bridging gap with Gen Z turn out to be key areas of focus at the 5th Retail Jeweller Dubai Forum



Amidst evolving trends, leading industry players say they are intent on adapting to the growing influence of Next-Gen in the realm of leadership, technology and consumers to achieve success in business

Dubai: Top industry professionals brainstormed and exchanged ideas on best practices and future trends at the Retail Jeweller Dubai Forum 2024, held at The Hyatt Regency, Deira, Dubai, on February 27, 2024, to drive the jewellery industry forward into the future. The participation of nearly 300 leading retail jewellers, industry professionals from across six GCC countries, and over 40 expert speakers made the event a grand success.

Under the ‘NextGen Retail’ theme, the over-arching focus of the intense deliberations was on disruptive business practices, finding new profit centres, technology transformations, empowering retail jewellery businesses with new strategies and services and success stories in Middle East jewellery retailing. 

RJDF 2024 also witnessed a milestone event – the launch of the FURA Celebration Sapphires, aprecious coloured gemstone mine-to-market program by FURA Gems. The program, which was successfully launched in India, holds enormous potential for jewellery retailers, who can offer consumers traceable and responsibly sourced precious gemstones.

In his inaugural remarks at RJDF 2024, Tawhid Abdullah, Chairman, Dubai Jewellery Group, said Dubai is a city of gold. Lauding the contribution of the jewellery industry and the stupendous work it has done in the last one and a half years, he said,The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has dropped the United Arab Emirates from the list of countries at risk of illicit money flows. It would not have been possible without the measures taken by the jewellery industry.”He was proud to see members of the young generation and many UAE designers participating in the forum. 

Neerav Bhansali, Convener of National Exhibitions, GJEPC, said the synergy between India and the UAE has fostered significant growth in the gems and jewellery trade between the two nations. He urged retailers to visit the three marquee trade shows organized by GJEPC in India that showcase a wide array of gold and diamond jewellery, coloured gemstones and diamonds from domestic and international exhibitors. 

A panel of young jewellers from the region discussed the use of Artificial Intelligence and ways to bridge the gap between the old and new generations. They deduced that finding a marketing strategy around the brand story is key, as is sharing that story, sometimes with influencer collaborations. The panel concluded that digital marketing is imperative for jewellers, as is understanding that it is a service industry dressed up as a product industry, calling for a customer-centric ethos.

A discussion on retail solutions through new-age technology touched on cutting-edge technologies such as RFID (radio frequency identification) aimed at improving process efficiency and security for businesses, as well as tech advances enabling jewellers to expand beyond their geographies with minimum effort. The panel discussed how the ‘digital-first model’ can play a big role in putting a brand before its customers, even if it does not have operations in a particular city.

Another interesting topic of discussion was opportunities and trends in diamonds and colour gemstones in the Middle East. Commenting on coloured gemstones and the recent launch of the Celebration Sapphires program, Dev Shetty, Founder & CEO of FURA Gems, said, “The whole idea behind the launch of the sapphires program is to enable retailers to add value to their business and customers by offering origin certified sapphires that tell the story of the gemstones from the mine to market.” He explained how the program will gradually extend to all colours of sapphires, including teal, green, parti and blue. 

Panelists acknowledged the growing contribution of this category, with Chirag Soni, Director, SGL, revealing an astonishing 1.5 times growth in coloured gemstone certificates issued in the last year, underscoring the growth of the category in retail. Other participants pointed out that jewellers can experiment with colours and charge a premium for high-end coloured gemstone ranges. The panel called for concerted efforts from jewellers to raise the value proposition of jewellery just as fashion industry labels do to a piece of cloth. 

Samriddh Kothari, Director, Achal Jewels, the largest polki manufacturer in India, made an impressive presentation on the new opportunities with uncut diamonds called polki. The presentation highlighted these gemstones’ rich legacy and history, dating back to Royalty and how jewellers in the Middle East can open a new avenue of profit in their business by introducing polki jewellery. 

In his presentation, Muneeb Cholayil, Suntech Business Solutions, underlined the importance of a holistic approach to technology transformation. 

At the heart of RJDF 2024 was a high-power panel on ‘Evolving Industry Landscape: Business Trends and Envisioning the Future’, moderated by Amit Dhamani, Managing Director, Dhamani 1969 and including industry heavyweights such as Tawhid Abdullah, CEO, Jawhara Jewellery; KP Abdul Salam, Vice Chairman, Malabar Gold & Diamonds; Nishith Shah, CEO, La Marquise Jewellery; Mahesh Devji, MD, Devji Aurum and Chandu Siroya, Director, Siroya Jewellers LLC.

Observing that it is not easy to be a market leader without family backing and a proper team, Tawhid Abdullah said, “We need to invest time, sit with the new generation and try to narrow the gap between us and them.”

KP Abdul Salam shared the Malabar Group’s ambition to become a global leader. “We want to be the world’s largest jeweller. We are currently the sixth largest (by turnover). Our motto is ‘Make in India, Market to the World’,” he said. 

When asked about the essence of building a brand that commands a premium and positioning it in a growingly competitive market, Mahesh Devji said, “Harnessing excellence should be an attitude. We should have clarity. Is it the bottom line we are looking at, the top line or the process (of building excellence in design and craftsmanship)? Adhere to ethics, work to the best of your ability and enjoy the process.” 

On managing expansion, Nishith Shah of La Marquise Jewellery said, “La Marquise, our first venture in jewellery, was an acquisition. Liali is also an acquisition to expand the market. The two brands have distinct market positions and customer segments, with negligible cannibalization.” 

Lauding the sense of community among Dubai jewellers, Chandu Siroya said, “We are all fierce competitors, but when it comes to the Dubai business, you can have a difference of opinion, but you cannot have a difference in your hearts. The business and the community will grow if your hearts are together.”

RJDF 2024 also featured a ‘Retail Solutions Providers Exhibition’, a unique Pret-a-couture Buyer & Seller that helped to connect various jewellery trade stakeholders in the Middle East and India, followed by the prestigious 5th Retail Jeweller Middle East Awards.

The 5th Retail Jeweller Dubai Forum was powered by the Dubai Jewellery Group. The presenting partners for the event were FURA Gems, SGL Labs, Achal Jewels and the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC India); and the associate partner was Suntech Business Solutions.

Retail Jeweller World Exclusive