Dubai: The Dubai-headquartered Joyalukkas Jewellery plans to open 30 stores this year, split evenly between those in new overseas markets and in India, according to the Chairman.
“We need to be extremely careful with new store locations – having more than 2 within the same neighbourhood or a few miles of one other won’t make sense any longer,” said Joy Alukkas, the founder of the Group that launched its first gold store in the UAE in 1988. “So, rather than a few more stores in Dubai – where we already have our highest number – we could do that in Al Ain, Saudi Arabia or Oman.
“We opened recently in the US and Singapore is a good place to be with our expansion this year.”
In Dubai, the gold and jewellery trade had one of its busiest periods in terms of new stores opening, coinciding with the opening of the Deira Gold Souk Ext.. A project from Ithra Dubai, the new location has become a showcase for new retail and wholesale trends in the gold business.
Dubai’s Meena Bazaar too saw an influx of new and established retailers enter or expand, including Tanishq, part of the Tata group from India.
Gold prices currently are trending towards $1,810 an ounce levels after sticking to well over $1,850 levels for nearly two- to three months. A further dip could set off another round of heavy buying from consumers in the UAE and tourists. With Ramadan approaching, retailers reckon closer to Eid will be the next big spike in demand.
Alukkas made a point of saying that the Group’s India operations will host an additional 15 stores this year. “My Group is a 100 per cent family-owned enterprise – there is no public shareholder or private equity involved,” he added. “That places extra responsibility on where we spend available funds. It means any capex we allocate needs to be justified – the Group has a 9,000 strong workforce, many of whom have been with us for years. We carry heavy responsibilities.”
On Tuesday evening (February 28), the Group lit up the façade of Burj Khalifa to mark the 35th year of operations in the UAE, and which then set the base for expansion in some of the other Gulf markets and overseas. More recently, it ventured into financial services through a remittance arm.
But gold is where the core of the business rests, and Alukkas sees nothing to change that. “Our India venture has retail outlets in ethnic wear (under the Jolly Silks banner), but that’s only meant for that market,” the Chairman added. “It was a passion project that I took on, nothing more.”
A ‘gold tower’?
There is however, one venture that interests him quite a bit – building a gold-standard residential tower in Dubai. “One in Dubai, and possibly two more like those in Trichur, my hometown, and Kochi,” Alukkas added. “It’s about creating a super-luxury benchmark in a limited number of apartments within the tower.
“Sort of giving a jeweller’s touch to a real estate project. Let’s see where this hope to build one leads.”