VICENZA, Italy (Reuters) – Gold jewellery demand in India, a major global market, is estimated to have risen 5 to 7 percent in 2011 and is set to grow a further 10 to 15 percent this year with bullion prices falling back after recent gains, the head of Gitanjali Gems, India’s biggest jewellery retailer said on Sunday.
India’s jewellery demand dropped 26 percent in the third quarter of 2011 to 125.3 tonnes, hit by strong price swings and a weaker rupee, the industry-funded World Gold Council has said.
Mehul Choksi, managing director of jewellery retail giant Gitanjali Gems (GTGM.NS: Quote, Profile, Research), brushed off concerns that a slowing of his country’s economic growth may put brakes on jewellery consumer demand.
“For the whole year we will end up with a 5-7 percent volume growth … (In 2012) I expect, as the prices of gold come down, it will once again catch up the momentum and will grow in volume by 10-15 percent, ” Choksi told Reuters in an interview on Sunday at an international jewellery fair.
Strong jewellery demand is expected to help Gitanjali group boost its revenues by about 35 percent in the new financial year which will start in March from the $2 billion made in the current year, Choksi said.
BOOSTING ITALIAN BRANDS
Gitanjali has been looking around to further expand its portfolio of Italian jewellery brands, which at present numbers six after the company last year bought four Italian jewellers, Stefan Hafner, IO Si, Porrati and Nouvelle Bague.
Choksi said a new acquisition may be made this year if he finds a complementary brand or product line in Italy. He declined to comment on reports in Italian media that Gitanjali was among potential buyers for Italian goldsmith Unoaerre.
Gitanjali plans to expand sales of its Italian brands in the Far East with the opening of distribution centres in China, Singapore and Japan in the next few months and is also interested in expanding on the markets in Russia, Kazakhstan and the Middle East, he said.
To help promote its Italian brands around the world Gitanjali has engaged Concetta Lanciaux, who used to advise Bernard Arnault, the head of the world’s biggest luxury group LVMH (LVMH.PA: Quote, Profile, Research), Choksi said.
The Indian group, which has recently bought Chinese jewellery maker Grown Aim and British jewellery distribution company Alfred Terry, does not plan to buy any more jewellers outside Italy, he said.
“We very strongly believe that only one jewellery design can be universal for the whole world, which is Italian jewellery,” he said.
(Reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova; Editing by Greg Mahlich)