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Top 6 jewellers who control India's gold
Malabar Gold & Diamonds

2 May, 2013, MP Ahamed, Chairman

TURNOVER: Rs 12,000 crore

Key Business Fact: Among top 5 jewellers in the world
USP: Value for money

       Born into a farmer family, MP Ahamed ventured into business in 1979 with an ice-making factory at Kozhikode. The business failed, and in 1981, he started trading spices and copra.

In 1993, the 36-year-old was advised to try his luck in gold. Ahamed, who has studied till high school, took the plunge. 'I started with the Rs 50 lakh I had earned from my business and opened the first Malabar Gold & Diamonds showroom at Calicut,' says Ahamed.

At that time, unfair trade practices were rampant. 'I started my business with the motto of transparency. We were one of the first in the industry to introduce 100% BIS hallmarked jewellery,' he says. A savvy marketer, Ahamed roped in global branding agency Brand Union to create a distinct corporate image in the highly competitive overseas market.

Malabar now has 82 outlets, of which 52 are in India and 30 in Gulf Cooperation Countries. It plans to expand to more states in India as well as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the US and UK. 'We are among the top five jewellery retailer groups in the world, and are striving to become number one,' says Ahamed.

Rajesh Exports

2 May, 2013,Rajesh Mehta,Chairman

TURNOVER: Rs 30,000 crore

Key Business Fact: Integrated player
USP: No making charges

       Rajesh Mehta was a rank holder at the Karnataka higher secondary and senior secondary school examinations. But instead of pursuing higher education, the 16-year-old joined his father, Jaswantrai Mehta, in supplying semiprecious and imitation stones to jewellers. 'I gradually developed an interest in the business,' says the 49-year-old Mehta.

In 1982, Mehta borrowed Rs 1,200 from his brother and started manufacturing jewellery in the garage of their Bangalore home. In 1995, Rajesh Exports entered the capital market with a public issue and raised Rs 10 crore.

The company mechanised manufacturing to cut costs to below 1%, enabling it to sell jewellery to retail customers at a 'real rate per gram'. The company still does not levy making charges.

Mehta has an aggressive roadmap for his business. 'Within four years, we plan to have 2,000 showrooms pan-India,' says Mehta.

Senco Gold Jewellers

2 May, 2013,Suvankar Sen, ED

TURNOVER: Rs 900 crore

Key Business Fact: Largest player in West Bengal
USP: Affordable bridal jewellery

       When Suvankar Sen (29), joined his family business in 2007, he had an inheritance to build on. His great grandfather, Maranchand Sen, ventured into the gold jewellery business 75 years ago.Suvankar's grandfather, Prabhat Chandra Sen, joined the business in 1950 and in 1968, opened the first shop in Kolkata's jewellery hub, Bowbazar. And by the time Suvankar joined the business, his father, Shankar Sen, ran a chain of 30 stores.

'I have added 16 new stores and we have expanded to Odisha, Assam, Jharkhand and Delhi. We now have the largest number of retail outlets in West Bengal,' says Suvankar, an MBA from IMT Ghaziabad. Senco is also exporting to Dubai, Singapore, the US and UK.

Suvankar's training has helped him give the business a professional edge. 'My focus is to highlight the art and creativity that gold artisans from Bengal are famous for,' he says.But the major obstacle, he says, is that customers in West Bengal are extremely price sensitive. This has forced Suvankar to expand his business to other parts of India.

His other regret is that work takes away his leisure time. 'I would love to go to Bali, my favourite destination,' says Suvankar, rushing into a video conference with an overseas client.

Krishniah Chetty & Sons

2 May, 2013,C Vinod Hayagriv, Managing Director

TURNOVER: Rs 600 crore

Key Business Fact: Jeweller to the rich and famous
USP: World-class design

      In the 1800s, Cotha Krishniah Chetty started out by selling Armenian coloured beads to the British in Bangalore Cantonment. The company was appointed as distributor for Rolex of Switzerland, and imported products from Mappin & Webb, and The Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Company of London.

'Rolex made diamond-encrusted dials with the name C Krishniah Chetty & Sons on top. Not many companies in the world can claim that honour,' says C Vinod Hayagriv, a fifthgeneration family member who joined the company in 1981, fresh out of school. This year, it is the only Indian company to be selected in an Antwerp contest on design, he adds.

And now that his two gemologist sons have joined the business, the avid golfer and traveller can look back at his own imprint on the company. 'Excellence is a process. I am not tired, and that is something I could be happy about,' he says.

Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri

2 May, 2013,S Gopaldas Zaveri,CMD

TURNOVER: Rs 1,385 crore

Key Business Fact: Public listing in May 2012
USP: Strong brand recognition

       When Shrikant Gopaldas Zaveri joined the family business at 19, he already had a business philosophy. 'I knew the tricks of the trade and the areas where I could add value to the business,' says Zaveri, who took over as CMD in 2000.

Selling jewellery was in his blood. In 1864, the late Shri Bhimji Zaveri started Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri (TBZ) in a tiny tin shack at Mumbai's Zaveri Bazar.

Deep insight into customer behaviour gave TBZ an early edge. In 1938, Bhimji Zaveri's grandson Gopaldas Zaveri shook up the market by offering a full-value gold buy-back scheme, which is still in operation, says Zaveri. TBZ was also the first to promote lightweight jewellery and offer certified solitaire diamonds, he says.

The company was listed on the stock exchange in May 2012, but the family is still at the helm. 'My business is an art and a science,' says Zaveri. He is keen to expand the store network to 57 from the current 23 across India by March 2015.

Bhima Jewellers

2 May, 2013,Dr B Govindan, CMD

TURNOVER: Rs 8,000 crore

Key Business Fact: Kerala's highest tax-paying retailer
USP: USP: Certified purity

       In 1925, when K Bhima Bhattar started Kerala's first jewellery showroom - a small shop in Alappuzha - he hadn't dreamt of creating a sprawling chain of two dozen stores across South India. Instead, he focused on a key principle: sell pure gold. 'This learning has helped me and my brothers to run the business successfully and to be a part of the lives of countless people,' says Dr B Govindan. The company was the first to implement hallmarking, bar coding and the rate card system, and get an ISO certification among jewellers, he claims.

This focus leaves Bhima with little room to offer discounts. Its other challenge is appealing to young customers.

Govindan's three daughters and their spouses are helping the brand scale up. In the next five years, the company hopes to add 25 stores across India and establish a stronger presence in West Asia, he says.

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