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J.B. and Brothers Pvt. Ltd.:- In the Big League
J.B. & Brothers, has come a long way to emerge as an acknowledged specialist in the manufacture of larger-sized solitaires.
By: Diamond World News Service
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Jul 18 2011 8:00PM
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Reference: 6174  

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New factory at Surat
New factory at Surat
From the lower-quality coated goods that it began dealing with in the late 1970s, J.B. & Brothers, has come a long way to emerge as an acknowledged specialist in the manufacture of larger-sized solitaires. Stephen Rego travels down memory lane to uncover a fascinating story of enterprise and business acumen that has made one of the leading Indian exporters of cut and polished diamonds.

Over the last decade, the name J.B. and Brothers has appeared with an amazing regularity among the list of winners of export awards from The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), clearly establishing it as one of the premier diamond manufacturer-exporters in India. Its outstanding record, even during the last couple of years when the industry was passing through its worst-ever crisis, the brisk activity at its factory in Surat, its ever-expanding marketing and distribution network both in India and across the globe, are some of the important factors that set the company apart from many other manufacturers.

But JB also has one additional feather in its cap – it is one of the increasing number of large Indian diamond manufacturers with a focused niche product, being a specialist manufacturer-exporter of solitaires, particularly in larger sizes from 0.30 carats to 10 carats and above in IF to I1 clarity in all shapes and colours.

A visit to its glittering factory in Surat and its consistent track record over the last decade could well leave one with the impression that J.B. and Brothers is one among the veteran manufacturers who pioneered the rise of the Indian diamond industry; though the fact is that it was a relative outsider when founder, Jitubhai Shah made his _ rst foray into the industry about four decades ago.

Early Origins

In many ways the history of today’s giant company began in 1971 when Jitubhai Shah came to Surat attracted by the potential of the fast developing diamond industry. Quickly learning the ropes, he launched his own business under the banner of J. B. Enterprise, and in 1977, ventured abroad for the _ rst time in an exploratory visit to Antwerp, the then unchallenged trading hub for the industry.

Bapuji with J.B. Shah and associates from Belgium
Bapuji with J.B. Shah and associates from Belgium
An astute businessman, Jitubhai saw a possible opportunity in coated type of rough, which was not in great demand in those days, and decided to experiment with a small quantity, recovering a remarkable 20 per cent makeable from it. Crisis struck soon after, but Jitubhai weathered the storm. “The recession of 1978-79 taught us a lot about the strategies of surviving in a downturn,” he says, “and came in very useful both in the postrecession rebound, as well as many decades later during the global _ nancial crisis of 2008-09.”

By 1983, the company had _ ourished, and with an eye to consolidating a base for further expansion, Jitubhai invited his brother, then a practicing doctor, to join him in the business, and set up J.B. and Brothers, a company that soon scaled heights that could scarcely have been imagined at that time. Strengthened with his new base and additional family support, Jitubhai took another calculated step, con_ dent of producing the desired results, and purchased a whopping 5,00,000 cts coated at one go – a big, big jump in business terms of the type that he was later to replicate on subsequent occasions.

From 1986, he became a participant in the Ghana mines along with DTC and over the next few years became widely acknowledged as a master of the coated + Buzimine (lal mati) segment. But Jitubhai was not content to rest on his laurels, and he naturally set his sights on bigger things. By now he had developed a stronger network and a dynamic team, and driven by his vision and the relentless pursuit of excellence, and his willingness to be directly involved and share his expertise with others at various levels, he moved J.B. and Brothers into the next gear.

Premal, Nirav, Miten, Sanjaybhai, Shaileshbhai, J.B.Shah,
Premal, Nirav, Miten, Sanjaybhai, Shaileshbhai, J.B.Shah,
Big Leap

By 1987, the Surat based businessman had started a marketing and sales office in Mumbai and in 1992 took his first step overseas with a marketing association in Belgium with Yaelstar BVBA. In 1995, he set up a marketing alliance in Canada with Vandan Associates Inc.

But manufacturing continued to be at the core of the business. During this period, for the first time he bought a light brown box of syndicate (DTC) goods of 2 to 10 cts, taking the first step towards what it today the core of the company’s business – larger sizes. Finally in 2000, shortly after establishing a 100% Export Oriented Unit (EOU) at Surat, exclusively for export of cut and polished diamonds, the company ceased working with smaller stones below 0.30 cts.

Gathering pace, J.B. and Brothers was soon recognised as an “Export House” and later upgraded to “Trading House” by the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, Directorate General of Foreign Trade for surpassing its targeted export turnover. By 2004, offices were opened in US and Hong Kong and the company started the marketing of certified Canadian Diamonds under the brand name of “Yael Canadian Diamonds”. In 2006 it initiated a marketing association with J. B. and Brothers (Israel) Ltd. for procurement of rough and sale of polished, and in 2007, opened an office in China and in 2008 another in UAE. Aiming to tap the boom in the Indian market, in 2004 it set up a marketing office in Delhi to service customers based in North India.

BHP Billiton added J.B. and Brothers to its elite customer list in 2006 and in 2008, it was nominated as a core client. Manufacturing activities too expanded alongside its growing marketing network, and by 2005 there were factories in Surat and Ahmedabad, Belgium as well as in South Africa. Some years later most of this was consolidated into the new ultramodern manufacturing set up in Surat, covering 1,75,000 sq.ft of working space that is equipped with the latest machines and state-of-the-art technology.

With business associates from Belgium
With business associates from Belgium
The company has developed its own grading system, which includes several parameters and specifications, enabling customers to make accurate purchases online. In 2010-11, the group’s turnover was US$ 451 million with a massive 54 per cent of the sales being made through its website.

Driving Force

What has made J.B. and Brothers so successful? There is a common agreement that it has a lot to do with the man who has been at the helm for all these decades, Jitubhai himself. Recognised as one of the very dynamic personalities in the business, he has been a leader from the front in many ways, building the organisation through his own hard work and vision even as he demanded an equal commitment from others around him.

But for all his involvement in the business, Jitubhai has also found time to be at the forefront of a range of business and social activity, beginning with the hospital he helped establish at his hometown in Vithoda. Besides being involved with the running of the Jivanjyot Hospital at Vithoda Gam and the Poonamchand Motichand Shah Balmandir at Vithoda, he is also associated with the social activity of the Babulal Poonamchand Shah Public Charitable Trust, Mahavir Hospital, Surat Panjrapol, Kheralu Taluka Uttar Vibhag Kelavani Mandal, Kheralu and many other social and religious institutions. Additionally, he is the Managing Trustee of Babulal Poonamchand Shah Public Charitable Trust, a Trustee of Surat Panjrapol, Shree Mahavir Health Relief Society (Mahavir Hospital) and Gadhvada Vibhag Kelvani Mandal, Satlashna ( Uttar Gujarat), as well as a Life member of The Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce&Industry.

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