Like his jewels, Balram Garg’s stars too are shining bright notwithstanding the sombre business environment in the industry. The CEO and managing director of PC Jeweller Ltd is basking in the glory of 30 per cent growth in business.
Garg sits on an elaborate chesterfield sofa on the third floor of his richly ornate showroom on Bank Street, Karol Bagh, wearing a smile of self-resilience. He is busy with the groundwork for the launch of 20 new showrooms this year that are coming after the launch of 10 in the last six months.
Leveraging the outreach and impact of celebrity marketing, Garg has signed on actors Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna to attract the audience. “They’re both widely loved. There’s no controversy attached to them. Akshay is quite the family man and we thought that, that aspect would appeal to our patrons. Twinkle, in her capacity, is a celebrated writer and author. As a team, they stand for the values that PCJ lays a premium on,” says Garg.
If there is one good thing that the present economic climate has done for the jewellery business, it’s converting more unorganised enterprises into organised ones. “With GST, jewellers have realised that if they want to survive, they need to follow fair practices, otherwise they can’t compete,” he says.
He applauds the government for introducing the hallmark bill. The year 2017 has treated them well but things haven’t always been this rosy for them. The last two years were particularly bad because the excise duty unleashed chaos. In 2016, demonetisation shut down the market.
“In those days, I remember sitting with my marketing team to build promotional models that would get the business back,” he says. Garg is now happy that the proposal to bring jewellers under the purview of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 has been withdrawn.
The two big challenges PCJ faces today, despite the growth trajectory, is that of unskilled labour, and rapidly changing trends. To meet the growing needs of consumers, it is imperative that we have efficient, skilled hands to do the job. “This is the only industry where you can train an illiterate person in just three months and make him stand on his feet,” says Garg who is personally taking initiative in the matter. “We’re opening a factory in Noida where we will train people and then absorb them into our workforce,” he says.
The design challenge is one that is still being brainstormed over. Since trends change every few months, it’s difficult for Garg and his team to keep up with the growing demand. Their squad of just 75 designers won’t suffice in the long term.
The future is not one that Garg fears. He is a big believer in karma. He is bound to get what he deserves, and with that thought, he lets turn the chapters. Just like his prosperous jewellery chain, Garg wants to start another chain—old age homes and hospitals. “Being a successful businessman is important but it’s not more important than being a good human being,” he says.