Going for gold
Ajay Sobhraj, founder and chairman of Au Finja, reveals the secret to the jewellery brand’s success and where it is heading in the future
How has the gold and jewellery market changed since Au Finja was founded?
“Au Finja as a brand has been in existence for over 20 years now. Before our existence the bangle industry only produced handcrafted pieces of jewellery, and we became the first true brand in this category. Today our range of machine-made wrist-wear is leading the market not only in sheer volume worldwide, but also the quality and precision of our designs.
“As a result of our success, more brands have cropped up. But sadly, while quality is the most discussed aspect of the jewellery business, it is often also the most ignored. Most brands put out sub-standard products with superficial finishing. At Au Finja there is an unwritten rule. If something – anything – prevents you from passing the quality of an item, then don’t pass it. Every employee or worker has to come to terms with the strict quality protocol of the company. There are no exceptions in this regard.
“Through this meticulous approach, we haves set various benchmarks for the industry and has ushered in a quality-conscious climate.”
Has demand been affected at all by tougher economic conditions in the region over the last two years?
“Yes, it has to an extent. One needs to bear in mind that tougher economic conditions may dampen consumer demand in several lifestyle categories, but not so heavily in categories such as gold jewellery. This is primarily due to the emotional connection it has to traditions among countries in the Indian sub-continent as well as the Far East. Jewellery purchase demand fluctuate mores with the rise and fall in gold prices and not because of any major economic downturn.”
Do you have any new collections coming to market before the end of the year?
“In 2017 so far, 10 new ranges have been launched within our different collections. The introduction of the AUSUM and YUME collections has been typical of the company’s philosophy – explore and innovate, and go where none has gone before. As a result, the design ranges of these two collections have become a talking point among the top jewellery brands in the world. A major international luxury brand has approached Au Finja for an exclusive range of AUSUM to be fea- tured as part of their jewellery collection. Discussions are in the finalisation stage.”
What is the company’s strategy moving forward and are there any areas of the market you will be focussing on?
“The company has moved forward by introducing wedding bands in the market. Again, design innovation and precision manufacturing is key here. Our initial results are more than encouraging and the company will launch its range of wedding bands in important outlets across the world.
“The company is also at the advanced stage of launching the Au Finja gold coin in configurations ranging from 1g up to 20g. This uniquely-designed coin can also be worn as an ornament.
“Europe and the Americas have given us a warm welcome and our market presence is steadily growing across major cities on these continents. Global expansion and the availability of our brand across more than 16,000 retail outlets across the world is a special feeling but humbling too. We need to work harder at our craft and continue to delight the end user with our product.”
What are your expectations for the gold and jewellery market next year?
“With the introduction of VAT in the UAE and other parts of the GCC everyone is in the wait and watch mode. Having said that, I can emphatically state that nothing affects the buyer of gold jewellery. When they want to buy, they buy. Period. And this number does not come down. It only grows.”