himji Jewellers is known for its finest jewellery that is exclusively designed, catering for both classical and modern tastes of its customers. It is an 84-year-old jewellery brand and Odisha’s oldest jewellery chain. The pandemic was a challenging situation for the company. However, despite difficulties, the brand stood strong and never compromised its services of the customers. During an interaction with Orissa POST, Khimji Group Director Mitesh Khimji shared several glimpses of his company’s journey.
How was the buying trend of jewellery in Odisha during the pandemic?
Every sector has been affected by the pandemic and the jewellery industry is no exception. The market was very bad due to lockdowns. However, we have registered some growth in post lockdown. Odisha is mainly a marriage market. Those marriages which were postponed are now being gradually held. So, the sale is increasing.
Did you see any change in consumer behaviour?
See, we have a saving mentality in our country but the pandemic has changed the mindset. After the lockdowns, people have increased their spending ticket sizes. Now people are focusing on enjoying their life rather savings. In this case, gold gives very good returns. Physical gold became rescuer during the pandemic.
How did Khimji stand with the employees during the crisis?
Everyone has suffered. Nine months was a challenge as we have taken care of our employees. However, we didn’t go for the salary cuts. We offered early salary to our employees considering the dire emergency. They need money. We are here because of our employees.
Gold price is increasing day by day. Where do you see the future of jewellery industry?
Yes, gold price was on a peak but now it has come down. You know, gold price is always affected by everything happing in our surroundings. The price has come down because the vaccine has arrived. We are also expecting little bit of correction.
Do you think online selling is now a convenient mode for business?
Online selling is very low in jewellery market because the buyers believe in touch-and-feel factor. But we all are present in online platform. The value of gold is very high so customers prefer to go to a store and touch and feel it before buying. We are not seeing that much success in selling compared to other goods sold in the online platform. But it is still evolving.
Any comment on the Budget
We have been urging the government to reduce custom duty for last five years. It has been now reduced and it will surely boost demand and one kind of relief to all stakeholders. But the new custom duty rate will be applied only to new stocks or consignments. The available stock will not be under new custom duty policy.
Future plans in Odisha
We are coming up with new showroom in Jharsuguda. We had delayed this due to the pandemic but it is coming up now. The new showroom will be 10,000 sq ft and it will be the largest showroom in western Odisha. Over 80 people we get direct employment. All products will be available under one roof with Khimji guarantee. We have also lined up some more showrooms in the state.
Is Bhubaneswar a friendly environment to do business?
Yes, of course. Bhubaneswar is most secure and safest place in India to do business. The state government has been very supportive. What the jewellery industry requires most from the state government is safety and security to do business. Police personnel here are very active.
Any suggestion to the government
The state government should encourage youths’ skill development in jewellery making. New generations do not pay much interest to get into jewellery manufacturing. The youth has to be attracted.