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Trendsmith in expansion mode

By N. N. Sachitanand

BANGALORE DEC. 25. The branded segment accounts as yet for only 2 per cent of the Indian jewellery market of Rs. 50,000 crores annually. But it is growing at the rate of 100 per cent a year. There has been a significant shift in purchaser attitudes, particularly in the upwardly mobile segment, from viewing jewellery as investment to jewellery as adornment, which has given rise to patronage of designer jewellery. Unfortunately, not every designer/manufacturer can afford outlets all over the country. And, in these days of congested urban traffic and paucity of parking space, the customer is reluctant to go haring from one brand outlet to another in search of the ideal purchase.

Noticing these trends, the renowned, century-old jewellery house of TBZ — Nirmal Zaveri of Mumbai — created an innovative retail concept called Trendsmith, where consumers can see and experience several brands of exquisite jewellery under one roof. Trendsmith opened its first outlet in Mumbai in November 2001. Today it is offering designer jewellery through four outlets in Mumbai, Chandigarh, Chennai and Bangalore. Two more are opening in Kolkata and New Delhi.

Trendsmith offers 21 lines of exclusive designer jewellery from leading manufacturers and designers from Mumbai, Chennai, Jaipur, Kolkata and Gujarat. The brands available at Trendsmith include among others Aashi Jewels, Asmi, Brilliant, Dia Gold Creations, Gehna, Hemi Sanghani, Karishma Mehra, Mehta Jewellery, Nirvana, Rachana, Roopa Vohra, Rosentiques, The Mind's Eye Collection and YS 18, Nakshatra, Maya, Featherz, Ace, Aura 22, Sha{Yuml}e, Rose International.

The ambience in a Trendsmith outlet is different from that of an ordinary jewellery store. The area of each outlet is around 1,500 sq. ft. The products are boldly and tastefully displayed in brightly lit glass cases, which the customer can closely access. Customers are encouraged to browse at their pace as long as they want. The products are pricey, ranging in cost from Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 6 lakhs , with an average ticket of Rs. 40,000. The management does not expect hordes to turn up, the average footfalls being about 20 per day per store.

According to Dharmesh Sodah, President of Trendsmith, the concept has caught the fancy of the discerning jewellery buyer and the company is now on an expansion spree. The company hopes to have 50 outlets operating in the next three years, some of which will be in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, the U.K. and the U.S. In 2004 alone, the target is to open outlets in Ludhiana, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Kochi, Pune, Mumbai (the second one) and Dubai.

All this will require funds and the company, which has already invested about Rs. 14 crores, is planning to raise another Rs. 20 crores through a combination of venture capital and debt. An IPO (initial public offer) is slated in 2005. While the present turnover is a modest Rs. 20 crores per year, Mr. Sodah expects that in the next five years Trendsmith should become India's largest jewellery retailing brand.

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