The strict lockdown prevented manufacturers from opening their units to complete orders taken before lockdown, thereafter post Dussehra as demand for jewellery increased rapidly, they were flooded with urgent orders – as all retailers wanted to re-open their stores with new inventory. And this was when karigars had gone to their villages and were reluctant to report to work despite monetary incentives.
People crunch exists
Informs Anand Shah, Anand Shah Jewels, Mumbai, “There is an acute shortage of karigars. Many are still in their native place in Bengal. It is therefore difficult to fulfill orders with less staff. We are trying our best, we are working overtime and somehow managing to do justice to the orders we have got.” Some karigars have reported to work and this has eased the workflow to some extent. However with the second wave of Covid19 approaching menacingly, the future once again seems bleak. Bridal jewellery orders have started coming in. “At present we are combining temple jewellery in bridal sets. We haven’t reduced grammage or weight despite the pandemic. We did face some worker issues while fulfilling orders in time,” informs Meghal Shah, Sparkling Gold.
“At one point of time, the demand was way higher than supply at that time things seemed quite difficult. Later, as lockdown rules were eased, things have now got back to normal,” explains Mehul Solanki, Solanki Jewellers, Mumbai.
Making light weight jewellery is challenging
Jewellery, which looks heavy, is strong, retains full purity of gold and yet light in weight is kind of difficult to produce for any jeweller. “We are developing special collections for bridal jewellery – we are using special technology for the same,” informs K Srinivasan, Emerald Group, Coimbatore. Some jewellers had a sound plan of action and therefore were able to tide over all challenges smoothly. “We are going to launch some light weight jewellery, at present we are going as per our original catalogue, which is quite vast,” informs Bharat Takhtani, ZAR Jewels. According to Anand Shah, reducing weight in case of bridal jewellery – while maintaining all other parameters constant is always a challenge for any jewellery manufacturer.
The jewellery manufacturing segment is perhaps the only segment in the jewellery supply chain, which works overtime, in challenging conditions and yet has to suffice with reasonable profits. They overcome a lot of difficulties on a regular basis and with the pandemic these have just increased.
Second wave may bring new challenges
Says K Srinivasan, “The second way of Covid19 could be a major challenge. In TN cases are few, in December the state government may announce another lockdown – that could affect our business. We are rushing with completing all orders before December –because at present the workers are there and logistics are in place.”
The fear, however is setting in, as one hears that in some parts of the country, state governments have ordered lockdown once again. It is therefore a reason for concern as lockdown does affect business adversely.
“This time however, I feel the lockdown may not be as strict as before and they may order restaurants, pubs and such places where density of population is higher to shut-down. Lockdown may be announced during night and not during working hours, as the government too is aware of the effects of a 24 x 7 lockdown on the economy,” explains Pramod Mehta, Shine Shilpi Jewellers. The second way of Covid19 could prove to be a dampener. “In TN cases are few, in December the state government may announce another lockdown – that could affect our business,” informs K Srinivasan.
Be more organized
The transition over the past eight months has been gradual. “We have some sound business practices in place, so we did not face any dearth of resources in terms of time, people or finances. We have worked with just 50 per cent staff,” informs Takhtiani. A definite and workable strategy is important for any business. Suggests Hemant Shah, marketing guru, “Manufacturing segment needs to be more organized – in terms of their human resource management. Some manufacturing need to work on their HR management skills. They need to provide private bus or mini van transport for their karigars to and from the workplace. They need to keep the karigars so busy that they have good money to take home and live in hygienic conditions.” Having new karigars to work on last minute orders is very difficult, because this work needs adequate training an experience apart from the art element. Therefore, making profits in the manufacturing segment is quite challenging.
Well prepared is half done
As the second wave of Covid 19 pandemic strikes the challenges are going to be different and difficult once again. “We specialise in antique jewellery and that takes time so it is always a challenge to fulfill orders in time, because of the pandemic, the pressure was indeed high,” explains Mehul Solanki, Solanki Jewellers, Mumbai. But it is a global phenomenon and one has to accept it. “I don’t think the second wave of Covid19 will cause any more damage to the business than the first wave did,” informs Bharat Takhtani, ZAR Jewels.
Gauge the future well
“We all have to watch-out for the second wave of Covid19,” explains Anand Shah, Anand Shah Jewels, Mumbai. Jewellery manufacturers need to prepare themselves well to meet the challenges of the second wave of Covid19. It has already hit the USA and Europe and will surely affect India by December or January.
This situation will surely hit jewellery exporters – many manufacturers who have orders for Valentine’s Day will face the brunt, as during a lockdown in other parts of the world demand will be reduced and this will have an impact on the Indian manufacturing segment.
Demand falls sans exhibitions and trade shows
When shows are cancelled, there is a slight reduction in demand. “We all understand the situation. So we have got special photographs taken of our jewellery and made a google drive link which we share with our trusted clients. These photographs allow them to choose what they want and they place their orders,” explains Anand Shah.
Exhibitions and trade shows have always boosted our business – but since they are not happening there is a some effect on business. K Srinivasan adds “In absence of bridal jewellery shows, we are reaching out to our clients virtually – over Zoom, etc.”
Until the Coronavirus cure is found, it would be difficult for anyone to rest at ease and virtual trade seems to be the way ahead. The G & J business has become more and more challenging by the day, given the pandemic and the ever-changing demand-supply equation. Manufacturers need to brace themselves to meet several types of challenges.