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Looking Forward to the Future -C. Vinod Hayagriv
"A strong believer in creating an environment of integrity and the highest ethical standards by ensuring fair business practices and leading by example" is how C Vinod Hayagriv, the new Chairman of The All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF) describes himself.
By: Diamond World News Service
Jul 22 2009 11:30AM
Reference: 4020  

"A strong believer in creating an environment of integrity and the highest ethical standards by ensuring fair business practices and leading by example" is how C Vinod Hayagriv, the new Chairman of The All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF) describes himself. He is taking on a huge responsibility, but with his kind of awareness and proficiency, the path to greater glory for the Indian jewellery market will be that much easier. Moreover, the Managing Director of Bangalore-based jewellery store C Krishniah Chetty & Sons, cherishes a lofty dream – "To take Indian jeweller into the global play field and revolutionize the Jewellery Retail Business in Bangalore, India, South-East Asia and Globally".

On behalf of Diamond World, Roli Gupta’s interview with this down-to-earth and multi-faceted jeweller is an insightful read about himself, the depth of his knowledge and understanding and the height of his ambitions for the GJF and the Indian Jewellery Industry.

About himself, his industry experience & expertise...

Diamond World : Tell us something about yourself – your education, interests and career please.

C. Vinod Hayagrive : I am a commerce graduate with a love for jewellery – a qualified Graduate of Diamonds, Colored Stones and Retail Jewellery from the Gemmological Institute of America. I love playing golf, outdoor trekking, and adventure sports and have even been a radio jockey for Radio Indigo. I am an on-call resource for the Bangalore Jewellers Association, a founding member of the YPO, an active alumni member of the GIA.I live by the motto of - "You’ve got to find what you love...And do what you love."

D.W. : You have been at the helm of C Krishniah Chetty & Sons since 1981...how has the experience of handling the affairs of such a legendary jewellery brand been?

C.Vinod : CKC, as the company is sometimes referred to, was a big legend in the 1900s. I started working with CKC informally in 1975, and then formally in 1981. Even today, I am inspired by the glory that belonged to the CKC name and I consider it my honourable duty to take forward this legacy of 140 years of undisputed 360 degree quality leadership in fine jewellery.

Leading the family-led company has been interesting to say the least. My philosophy is to make and sustain this legendary business with the growth management philosophy is of "inclusive" growth. Managing a company that is "Steeped in Tradition" is a great experience, and has given me some very pertinent lessons in management. Being considered an innovative leader is an asset. It is challenging to keep the company on the growth path and demands for constant innovation. But I believe we can do far more when compared to the best in the world.

D.W. : What market share and size does C Krishniah Chetty & Sons have?

C. Vinod : From the overall market perspective, it is a very small percentage, but we are leaders in the higher end jewellery segment – with around 50% market share. We do have immense scope for growth in the mid and lower cost jewellery segments.

D.W. : Please tell us about the kind of industry experience and expertise that you are going to bring to GJF...

C.Vinod : I have more than three decades of experience in this business. Because I have travelled widely and I have in-depth knowledge of how the jewellery business functions worldwide, jewellers in India can benefit immensely from my strong understanding of retail organisations and systems. I believe in the power of selfless sharing of knowledge, a fact that is sure to make my friends and colleagues in India very happy. It is my ceaseless quest for human capital development that has helped steer my company along a continuous growth path. And I believe this can be done for every sphere I am involved in for other groups of people and organizations. I strongly believe in the "strength within".

D.W. : Would you share with us some interesting learnings about the jewellery industry that you have gathered in your long career?

C.Vinod : Over the course of my career and extensive travels, I have realized that the Indian jewellery industry still has a long way to go to be highly respected in the world. Several systems - gemmological knowledge, HR practices and marketing need improvement. Deeper understanding and knowledge of processes is required and that can be done only through formal education. The industry is secretive and ethics and standards must be implemented and rigorously followed. Through good marketing, the industry can be made more glamorous. Governmental support is a must to achieve better infrastructure as for example in China. Despite all that needs to change, the industry has amazing potential for growth.

About the Indian Gems & Jewellery industry...

D.W. : What do you think is the USP of the Indian jewellery industry?

C.Vinod : Our creativity and rich and varied styles of jewellery making constitute our USP.

D.W. : How can the Indian jewellery industry get a world focus? For example, most worldwide surveys about the best jewellery brands worldwide have only Euro-American brands like Graff, Harry Winston and Buccellati at the top. What can Indian jewellery brands do to reach the top level of branding?

C.Vinod : The Indian industry has tremendous scope for growth and worldwide recognition. Retailers should be less concerned with debt and have an optimistic outlook. They need to gear up and look for growth and developing a strong brand. There is a big lacuna in the attitude towards branding, what is needed is a healthy outlook to making true brand recognition and its attendant complexities.

D.W. : What steps do you think the jewellery industry needs to take to grow, have increased productivity and profitability? In terms of human resources, marketing, cost cutting?

C.Vinod : There is much that can be done. The hybrid model where our profitability is increased across the country is essential right now. I propose 10% additional margin growth. Our industry needs to spend money not cut costs. Traditionally, Indian jewellers have always kept costs in control. So what is there to cut? We need to spend. Build infrastructure. Grow. Spend on marketing.

D.W. : What can the industry do to increase customer confidence in the face of reduced consumer spending power?

C.Vinod : A common Code of Ethics with a sort of self policing by, of and for the industry will go a long way in increasing the customer’s confidence in the retailer.

About the GJF...

D.W. : What exactly would be your role as the new Chairman of the GJF? In terms of existing structure and future vision, what sort of changes do you intend making to the GJF? Which specific problem areas do you intend to address?

C.Vinod : The GJF is an august organisation that is a nodal point of reference for the entire gem and jewellery trade in India. The task of managing it, making changes and taking it towards a great future is putting it mildly - stupendous. I am fortunate that we have a sterling set of members at the helm. I am merely a Chairman. But the team consisting of 24 focussed and truly interested members is unique. India is fortunate to have an organization such as GJF at this crucial juncture. I hope we as a team will live up to the aspirations of the jewellery Industry in the years to come. It is a multi-pronged approach that we are looking at - strengthen the GJF as an organization + include multitude of members across every district and taluka + educate + build a code of conduct + make governmental participation in the industry and more.

D.W. : There are plans to convert the federation into a National Council. This would be done by enrolling 1 lakh members from 650 districts in 35 states. How do you propose to carry out this sort of enrolment? What strategy or plans do you have to bring the GJF to the level of a national body, representing jewellers from around the country?

C.Vinod : Making the GJF a national body is key to its success and ultimately the growth of the Indian jewellery industry –this movement is being spearheaded by the Membership Development team and a proposal under the project called "the Committee of District Convenors" (CDC) to get more than one lakh members in a few quarters.

D.W. : Tell us something about this year’s "Talent for the Talented" theme for the GJF.

C.Vinod : This theme came about because the GJF recognises the need for good quality education opportunities across the country through recognized institutions, colleges and engineering bodies. An independent project, this comprises working with already existing institutions and the government to provide for jewellery engineering courses.

D.W. : What sort of assistance can the government provide in terms of policies and laws to aid the growth of the industry? How does the GJF plan to collaborate with the government?

C.Vinod : The GJF – National Council conversion is one way of collaborating with the government and various options are being discussed with the Ministry of Commerce to aid the growth of the industry.

D.W. : Please tell us something more about initiatives like Trustmark and India Jewellery Week, Lucky Lakshmi and other promotions being planned by GJF to aid the growth of the jewellery industry.

C.Vinod : These initiatives are still in the planning stage...more details would be available at a later stage when concrete decisions are taken.

D.W. : Where do you see the GJF at the end of your tenure?

C.Vinod : Right now, I am not even thinking about that...because there is so much to be done!

About prevailing recession...

D.W. : The World over, recession is draining profits. How well-equipped is the Indian jewellery industry to cope with this situation?

C.Vinod : Globally, the situation is bad. The Indian industry is as well-equipped as any other industry in any other country. Volatility in prices/stock markets means volatility in our markets too. Though, like China, in India the situation is not so bad, but yes, tough times are ahead over the next three years.

D.W. : What can retailers do to increase sales and tide over recession?

C.Vinod : Marketing, marketing and marketing. Couple that with fair business practices to increase consumer confidence. And never get short-sighted and frustrated. Tough times don’t last...but decisions made today in the face of them will have lasting repercussions, so keep a cool head.

D.W. : Are there any steps that can be taken to ensure that the industry remains stable in the face of future economic crises?

C.Vinod : Whatever steps are taken to tide over this recession when put into action will ensure stability in the future.

D.W. : Your statement on making the industry grow by 50% in 4 years has created much optimism in the industry that is in recession; how and when will we actually see this happening?

C.Vinod : When I made this statement in the AGM, I also spoke about how the industry needs to get together. All plans must be executed. Perseverance is necessary – that done, the next years will be over and then growth will happen.

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aspi pooniwala
Todays vision is tomorrows success. Mr C Vinod is very encouraging and has a very focused views on taking the Indian Jewelry Brand to international brand standards, his posituve attitude is much appricated and can bring the much needed required success to the industry. There are few visioneries in the industry who will work towards the betterment of the trade as a whole compromising their own interest. The stalwards and illumanaries of the industry should be shoulder to shoulder with Mr C Vinod to make the success of this vision. Mr C vinod has rightly said that Indian jewelers don't have scope to cut cost but have to invest to bring up the market and consumer confidence. I wish Mr C Vinod and GJF all the success to put the Indian jewelry Brand at par with any other international brand in the jewelry market with proper code of ethics.
Dr. Jayshree Panjikar
Very nice article, positive attitude is a must. I appreciate what Mr.Vinod has to say. There should be more persons like him in the Industry.
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