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As Pure As Gold

A few decades ago, if anyone would talk about Dubai, they’d only think of three things: oil, tourism and gold. That’s how popular gold shopping was, and continues to be till date. UAE’s pure gold is much spoken about worldwide with some of the finest jewellers making Dubai their home. One such jeweller who started his gold business in Dubai and has now taken his brand across borders is Mr Firoz Merchant, the Chairman of PureGold jewellers. Being ranked amongst the richest Indians in the region by Forbes, Firoz’s zeal to take PureGold to unprecedented heights is admirable.

 

The Start

It was in the year 1980 when Firoz visited Dubai for the first time with his wife. When he visited the gold souq, the glitz and glitter of the souq, and the safety around attracted him the most. The safe and sound environment influenced him to enter the gold and diamond business. At that point in time, the market was quite pre-mature. “There were a few retailers and traders in the gold business working relaxed and comfortably,” says Firoz Merchant. “I entered the market in 1989 to benefit from the pre-mature market scenario and established the company here.”

While Firoz was scouting for the best name possible for his brand, he wanted a name that would be generic, easy to pronounce and defines his core business values. Hence, he chose PureGold. “Purity identifies with high value products like gold/diamonds/pearls/precious metals/ colored stones etc. and enables us to win the trust of our consumers by giving them the best quality and purity.”

Finally, in the year 1989, PureGold opened its first branch in the Dubai Gold Souq and from there, there was no looking back.

 

The Gap

Back in the 1980s, the gold and diamond jewellery market had not been explored properly in the Middle East. But India’s gold and diamond industry was flourishing. However, despite India being the world’s largest market for gold and one of the biggest jewellery manufacturers, safety was one major concern for a majority of gold manufacturers and traders, which wasn’t the case with Dubai. Moreover, Dubai’s proximity to India and Africa, which remains a major source of mined gold, made Dubai even more lucrative as an option for gold business. The emirate is a major trading partner to China too, which is the second largest market for gold and the world’s largest source of gold.

Besides, as Firoz mentions, there were only a few players in the market who would work in a relaxed and comfortable environment. There was, hence, an opportunity for a new player who could leverage on the benefits of UAE’s geographical location, growing trade relations with other countries and thereby reducing prices whilst making the highest quality of gold in new designs available to everyone for purchase, which PureGold effectively tapped on.

 

The Challenges

When PureGold was launched, there were only a few competitors. However, as Dubai continued becoming a hub for business globally, it attracted many new gold traders in the region. For customers, it was highly advantageous as they were being offered a wide variety of designs in gold and diamonds from various countries. PureGold welcomed the increasing competition by learning from its competitors and devising new strategies. “We welcome competition as it kills monopoly,” says Firoz. “Competition is healthy, it helps us learn constantly. PureGold believes in learning and being the best for our consumers.” Today, while the market is quite mature (allowing for free trade), PureGold still manages to stay on top of things thanks to their innovative designs, manufacturing and promotional strategies.

Moreover, in the business of gold, the profit margins aren’t very high. In increasing competition, with low profits, sustenance often becomes a challenge. But Firoz has a different philosophy. “My policy is not to make $100 in one day, I believe in making $1 everyday consistently. Our compromised margins benefit our loyal customers and make sure they get guaranteed lowest prices and make it affordable, which in turn works to our benefit.”

 

The Expansion

In the year 2000, 11 years after its establishment, PureGold decided to expand and enter new markets. Since the gold market was growing at a very fast pace, customer demands increased in equal proportion too. In order to cater to the growing demands, it was prudent for the brand to expand and reach out to new customers at more locations, to offer them more convenience.

Owing to the success in their gold trading business, PureGold has also established two manufacturing units: one in the UAE and one in China. The brand which started off with one employee today has more than 3000 employees across the globe.

But PureGold not only expanded horizontally (adding new stores), it expanded vertically too. Today, PureGold is into real estate, branded sunglasses, watches and soon it shall enter into F&B, apparel and accessory industries.

 

The Lessons

Through his journey, Firoz has learnt some key lessons, the first being discipline. According to him, one should always be vigilant, smart and should monitor his finances. The debt to equity ratio should always be in control.

Secondly, while in Rome, do as the romans do. As an entrepreneur, to succeed one should understand the laws of the region and follow them properly to succeed.

Thirdly, customer loyalty is important. Focus should always be on the end user. If he is impressed once, he will keep coming back to you again and again.

 

The Verdict

PureGold is a brand that has revolutionised the business gold in the UAE. Having been a part of UAE’s growth, the brand has been consistent in its delivery of the highest quality of gold with the best customer service. In-fact, the brand has also been awarded multiple times for their customer service standards. Whilst being a profit business, PureGold also participates in a number of CSR activities to give back to the society where they belong. The success of PureGold, as concluded, lies in its ethics. A great idea, a great opportunity, a great team and great practices ultimately lead to great success.