Global diamond major De Beers has set its sights on India as it expects the country to be one of the top three markets for the precious stones in the coming decade.
“…You know India is one of our top five priority markets and we certainly expect India,to be a number two or number three as we enter into the decade,probably after US and China,” Forevermark CEO and De Beers Group Executive Director and Executive Committee Member Stephen Lussier said.
Predicting that growth would be driven by Indian and Chinese markets,he said the company planned to fully tap tier II and III cities since majority of the sales came from them.
“According to me 10 per cent of the diamond sales comes from India. If you look at the sales of De Beers Group,India is well over 50 per cent in our sales of rough diamonds,” he added.
Talking about plans for India this year,Lussier,who was here to participate in the “ForeverForum” a two-day event said,”We are planning to tap Tier II and III cities as most of the business were coming from these regions.
“Since our entry in India,we have been adding cities and branching out to more towns. We thought entering into big cities will be apt for these (diamonds). But it was contrary.
We found there is lot of opportunity in smaller cities. We are finding people switching from gold to diamonds faster in Tier II and smaller cities”,he said.
On the impact of rupee weakening against US dollar,he said,”It has been a challenge. It has made the retailers to deal the diamonds more expensive. It also impacts the Indian industry because they need to finance the business,which runs in US Dollars and to finance in rupees is more harder.”
Lussier said the company was planning to open 100 doors (retail points of sales) in India by the end of this year.
“Last year we were having about 34 doors. It is now at 65. We are aiming to have 100 doors by Diwali this year. Pretty much tripling the number of retailers,which is a big number for a country like India”,he said.
Lussier,expressing fears that diamond mines world over were getting older,said: “The next few years,our major South African mines will go underground. If you go underground,you produce less. In the next decade,Canadian mines probably going to close in the next decade”.
He said the production of diamond from a mine in the coming decade will remain “static”. “It looks all flat. The next 10 years,does not look the world would produce diamond than it has in the last 10 years. It may be slightly less”,he said,adding after 30 years,it looks there would be a “sharp” decline in diamond production.
“The youngest diamond is 800 million years old and the oldest one is about 3.5 billion years old..”,he said.
He said the first six months of last year was the best for De Beers as the group clocked sales up by 35 to 40 per cent.
“That only happens when you have this terrific period of price growth. We had an extraordinary six months. The reason for that was rapid increase in price…,” he explained.