JEDDAH — Bucking the trend of global decline in gold jewelry sales, Joyalukkas — the world’s number one retailer of 22-karat gold jewelry — is on an expansion spree.
“We are opening 10 to 15 branches every year,” said Joy Alukkas, Chairman and Managing Director of the Joyalukkas Group, in an exclusive interview with Saudi Gazette here Wednesday.
Joy Alukkas was in town to open his jewelry chain’s outlet, the third in Saudi Arabia. Joyalukkas, which already has branches in Riyadh and Dammam, also plans to open an outlet in Jubail in the near future.
Saudi Arabia, which was the 10th largest consumer of gold in the world in 2011, saw its jewelry demand decline by 17 percent to 55.8 tons. But as an intelligent investor with long experience in the gold jewelry business, Joy Alukkas has made the most of the surging price of the yellow metal. “Even though sales were down by 10 percent, our turnover increased by 18 to 20 percent,” said Joy, who learnt the tricks of the trade from Varghese Alukkas, his late father.
“The reason has been our expansion in India and the Gulf,” he said. His concept of one-city-one-shop has paid dividends as the turnover this year jumped to $2 billion.
The figures speak volumes about the business acumen of a person who started his venture in 1999 with three shops in the UAE. Today Joyalukkas has 86 branches in nine countries with a staff of 6,000 people.
Joy, as his name suggests, has a pleasant personality and an infectious smile. He had a modest beginning in a huge family of 10 sisters and five brothers. His father ran a jewelry shop in Thrissur, the cultural capital of the south Indian state of Kerala. Joy entered the family business after Grade 12. But he had a vision and foresight. He took the gold jewelry business beyond the confines of a traditional trade to the modern showroom culture where display and presentation are very important.
“Most of my showrooms are a minimum of 15,000 square feet in area,” Joy told Saudi Gazette. Joyalukkas’ showroom in the Indian city of Chennai is spread out over four enormous floors, offering a million jewelry designs in gold, diamond, platinum and other precious metals. It has won an award as the largest jewelry showroom in the world.
Joy, whose jewelry chain has won a number of international awards, lists five factors which have been the backbone of his successful business: “Price, quality, service, designs and network.”
But like other successful businessmen, Joy has diversified his business into other areas as well. “We have six types of business. We are into retail textile, money exchange, air charter, malls and real estate.”
The group is inaugurating a concept mall dedicated exclusively to shopping for weddings. It has been aptly named the “Mall of Joys.”
Joyalukkas Group is also involved in Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives under the Joyalukkas Foundation supervised by Joy’s wife Jolly Alukkas. They organize blood donation campaigns involving their staff every four months. The foundation has also initiated a unique “My 0.50” concept where the company’s employees contribute 0.50 fils (15 cents) of their salary to the fund every day.
Thirteen years is not a long journey in any business. But in 13 years Joy has come a long way. He feels that he still has miles to go.
“My aim is to have an employee strength of 10,000.”
“Ten thousand” is more than a mere number in his dictionary.