Jewellery giant from India sets up store in Singapore

Indian actor Suriya handing over an item to a customer on the opening day of Malabar Gold & Diamonds' store in Syed Alwi Road. Malabar has its sights set on being the world's No. 1 jewellery retailer by 2015.
Indian actor Suriya handing over an item to a customer on the opening day of Malabar Gold & Diamonds' store in Syed Alwi Road. Malabar has its sights set on being the world's No. 1 jewellery retailer by 2015.PHOTO: MALABAR GOLD & DIAMONDS

Malabar Gold & Diamonds to use S'pore as base for regional expansion

The world's third-largest jewellery retailer set up shop here recently and intends to use Singapore as a springboard to expand into the region.

Malabar Gold & Diamonds - a household name especially in South India - opened its 102nd store globally in Syed Alwi Road, opposite Mustafa Centre, late last month.

The Kerala-headquartered company, whose annual revenue exceeded US$2.4 billion in 2011, was ranked as the world's No. 3 jewellery retailer by turnover last year, after Hong Kong's Chow Tai Fook and America's Tiffany & Co.

Malabar expects overall annual revenue to hit US$3.5 billion (S$4.4 billion) this year.

It has set its sights on lifting the company's overall position from third to first by 2015.

Chairman M.P. Ahammed said: "Our new phase of expansion will see us enter new markets, new territories, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong - which will not only boost our revenues but also help us become a global conglomerate."

Not bad for a company which was set up in 1993.

In just 20 years, Malabar has become a prominent presence in India and the Middle East, with outlets in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Malabar has bold ambitions, and will pump in 1.2 billion UAE dirhams (S$406 million) to add 39 outlets in six months to its existing retail network of 102 outlets across eight countries.

"Growth is in our DNA and we are hungry to expand to every nook and corner of the world where there is a reasonable demand for jewellery," said managing director Shamlal Ahamed.

Malabar marketing manager Joshy Michael said Singapore was the ideal place to serve as the company's base for expansion as it is the regional hub.

He added that Malabar has already shortlisted seven cities in Malaysia for concept jewellery stores, like the one in Singapore.

It is eyeing three showroom stores in Indonesia, and four more kiosk shops in malls here.

The Singapore shop features some 5,000 sq ft of space across three floors, and was opened by well-known Indian actor Suriya.

Malabar's retail gold business has been brisk this year, posting 19 per cent revenue growth in the first three quarters.

Mr Michael said: "Price weakness is also a reason for people to buy, but wedding, gifting, festivals and rituals are important reasons for people to buy gold irrespective of price variation."

alfoo@sph.com.sg