ALKESH SHARMA / EMIRATES BUSINESS
It all started with only one store at Deira City Centre but today this brand boasts of 35 different stores across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region and also a strong presence on the e-commerce domain.
Jewel Corner, which aims at catering to each strata of the society, has certainly covered a remarkable journey in the last 19 years. Strategically infusing the strength of technology in their physical operations, Jewel Corner is eyeing to expand its operations vigorously under the apt guidance of a seasoned corporate honcho Abhijit Achwal.
Achwal is the General Manager of Soft Touch Jewellers LLC â€“ a division of the 7Cs Group of companies, under which the brand Jewel Corner operates.
With over 20 years of experience in the retail industry, Achwalâ€™s core competence lies in conceptualising, innovating and transforming businesses by being a strong leader and a great team player. Achwal, who holds an MBA in Marketing and Business Management and a Bachelorâ€™s degree in Pharmacy, is known for his positive attitude and calm yet aggressive approach when it comes to setting and meeting the targets.
With a strong network of established partners, Achwal has worked hard to help build and grow the brand Jewel Corner over the years. His crusade has been to make Jewel Corner synonymous to gifting happiness with wide range of designs at an affordable price range across the GCC region.
Emirates Business spoke to Achwal to get an insight of Jewel Cornerâ€™s future expansion plans and business strategy.
How you look back at the corporate journey of Jewel Corner? Currently where are you standing?
The story dates back to 1997. Jewel Corner â€” the retail brand owned by Soft Touch Jewellers LLC â€” started with one physical location inside the hypermarket at Deira City Centre. Today, Jewel Corner has 35 stores in locations across GCC countries. We have strategic partnerships with several leading hypermarket chains and licences to merchandise within their stores. In addition to this, we also use the kiosk format to operate in Dubai.
To keep up with the changing shopping trends, we launched a dedicated e-commerce website that gives the shopper a 360-degree holistic view of products so that they make an informed decision.
We have around 130 employees who, with collective efforts and dedication, continue to inspire great performance for the organisation and push the boundaries of success.
How you look at the jewellery industry, what are your expectations in the coming year?
The fashion and jewellery market is a thriving space in UAE and in the region. What makes the market even more interesting is the rich demographic diversity, so there is great business potential if you carefully assess each culture and its discerning taste in jewellery while delivering a compelling product. There is certainly an immense potential in the market.
According to a report titled â€˜UAE Gems and Jewelry Market Forecast and Opportunities, 2019â€™, the gems and jewellery market in the UAE is expected to grow at more than 7 percent till 2019. Gold accounts for the largest share in UAEâ€™s gem and jewellery market. However, the young shoppers demonstrate a keen interest in the intricate designs and works of diamonds than just yellow metal.
What are your future expansion plans for the UAE and globally?
Expansion is always key for us. We are studying the markets closely – both areas where are currently operating and the unexplored sectors – and looking forward to expand in all three business models of Jewel Corner, i.e. shop-in-shop, kiosks, and e-commerce. We are widening our geographic reach across the GCC countries for all the three formats.
What is your usual business strategy behind ensuring success of your products?
Overall as a brand we are putting all our energies and resources into innovation to offer something really unique and extra to our valued customers. Our attempt is to redefine the jewellery buying behaviour in this market by strengthening and innovating in every aspect of our business, be it the design of the collections, special gifts to celebrate a global event, or enhancing customer experience in the physical store or on our website.
What is the importance of technology in your industry? What are you doing to keep yourself up-to-date with it?
Technology and innovation play a crucial role today and every industry needs to embrace them, including the jewellery and fashion sector. We have tried to entrench the use of technology to enhance customer experience and satisfaction. For instance, though we have physical stores across GCC market, we have designed an e-commerce site to make shopping experience simple, seamless, and interactive.
Moreover, we use gadgets such as iPads and smart televisions to improve functions at physical stores and to train our staff upto global levels. This facilitates us in improving customer experience at point-of-sale and also helps us to build on customer loyalty through targetted marketing.
UAE is looking forward at hosting the biggest exhibition of the world in 2020, how are you preparing to make UAE meet that vision?
With the upcoming Expo 2020, the retail landscape is expected to evolve manifold. We plan to support the vision of UAEâ€™s leadership and match the industryâ€™s strides in every way possible. The market is expecting a large influx of tourists in the run-up to and during the expo. This expo is not just an event; it represents the vision of the city, country, and its rulers. And it is this vision that we seek to be aligned with, and contribute to the countryâ€™s prosperity through inspiring business and trade practices.
Please throw some light on your family and stint with Jewel Corner.
I hail from India and currently stay with my wife and two daughters in Dubai. My relationship with Jewel Corner commenced as a Business Head, during which my work involved extensive conceptualisation and implementation of the brand across the retail network.
Over the years, I have developed the retail, brand and marketing communication and go-to-market strategy for Jewel Corner; and now with our presence in the digital space through an e-commerce website, I am looking forward to working with the enthusiastic teams and scale greater heights.
What is your future approach while spearheading Jewel Corner?
We aim at building on our strengths to emerge as the largest gifting brand, and in a way become synonymous with the happiness that comes with gifting jewellery to a loved one or even to oneself. One of the important elements to this vision will also be harnessing innovation for our business – be it redefining the shopping concept or introducing revolutionary designs in jewellery products and packaging. In the next few years, we also aim to excel at our customer engagement and shopping experience to deliver a holistic service along with a strong product.
We will certainly dedicate more efforts towards our e-commerce portal (www.JewelCorner.com). A well-rounded shopping experience for our valued customers is imperative to our business ethos. Since digital is the new norm, we would like to master this space and constantly work on the customersâ€™ feedback. This in turn will help us develop a solid internet-based ecosystem that replicates our success in physical retail concepts.
What are you doing to beat the mounting competition in your industry?
Creativity is an intrinsic part of our business strategy. In the end, quality and design of our jewellery and accessories reflect our repute and core-competencies. We have created a formidable team of award-winning designers who closely track emerging trends in customer tastes and preferences in the region and globally. The team always endeavours to create designs that are refreshing, compelling, and create a distinct identity for Jewel Corner in this extremely competitive market.
I must say that creativity and technology both play an integral role in designing special value-added products to celebrate global events. Jewel Corner is proud to have displayed its strength in the recent past; for instance, the highlight of our Valentineâ€™s Day campaign was a video-enabled box with an LED screen that played customised videos recorded over smartphones.