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Ahammed MP, chairman, Malabar Gold & DiamondsAhammed MP, chairman, Malabar Gold & Diamonds

Kozhikode-based Malabar Gold and Diamond is one of the largest gold jewellery retailers and manufacturers in India with 260 showrooms in India and the Middle East. The retailer is planning to invest Rs 1,600 crore in FY22 for expansion. Ahammed MP, chairman, Malabar Gold & Diamonds, talks to Rajesh Ravi about the impact of Covid-19 and future plans of the company. Edited excerpts:

Malabar Gold has listed its international investment arm on the Nasdaq Dubai Private Market. Is this an indication of anything big in the global market?
The listing on the Nasdaq Dubai will offer our 300 plus shareholders from international operations the opportunity to trade their shares easily on approval of the board. Our international arm, Malabar Investments Plc, is now registered with Dubai International Financial Center and it gives complete transparency and ease of doing investments.

Are the footfalls back to normal in your stores across India?
As the economy is reviving, the consumer sentiment and demand are witnessing significant improvement. Footfalls are gradually increasing in all our stores across the country. Our latest ‘Brides of India’ campaign has also witnessed strong traction in the consumer space. Ahead of the festive and wedding seasons, things are looking positive.

What is your outlook regarding total sales in this fiscal year given that the pandemic impacted the first quarter?
Overall, retail sales were affected in the first quarter of this fiscal due to subdued consumer sentiment and restricted timing of operations. Sales were especially impacted between the last week of April and May. However, gradual unlocking has improved sales in the following months. We are looking at a robust festive season if there is no further escalation in the infection rate.

Do you expect the consumption of gold jewellery to increase in the coming quarters?
During the pandemic phase, gold has strengthened its safe haven status. As a result, the demand outlook remains strong. Thanks to mandatory hallmarking, people are looking at gold as a dependable investment instrument. Hence, we are expecting growth in the consumption of gold jewellery in the coming quarters.

What is the short-term and long-term outlook on gold prices and their impact?
We don’t want to speculate on the gold price movement. We have recently launched ‘One India One Gold Rate’, which offers a uniform gold rate without compromising on purity. It gives an opportunity to consumers to buy 100% BIS hallmarked and responsible sourced gold at fair price. Through ‘One India One Gold Rate’, we aim to develop transparency in the trade, thus putting the consumers’ interest first.

Are you witnessing a shift in the preference of the youngsters?
New-age youngsters prefer to buy jewellery that has life beyond the locker. They prefer to buy wearable jewellery and complement their individuality. They are open for experiments.

Malabar Gold’s future plans?
We will further strengthen our presence by opening 56 stores globally with 40 across India and 16 internationally in FY22. For that, we’ll be investing Rs 1,600 crore and the expansion drive will generate 1,750 new jobs. In India, we’ll strengthen our presence in states like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha. Globally, our new target markets are the UK, Canada, Egypt, Bangladesh in addition to expansion in the existing markets of the US, the UAE, Malaysia, Singapore, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.

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