DUBAI // The Dubai-based retailer Pure Gold Jewellers plans to almost double the number of its stores in the GCC and expand into Qatar and Saudi Arabia in the next three years, its chairman said. Firoz Merchant, who is also Pure Gold's founder, said the company had 75 stores across the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman, but it would start adding new boutiques in those markets and in Qatar and Saudi Arabia next year.
"We have plans to open 50 stores in the next three years, but this year will only be a correction year, an improving year," Mr Merchant said. Pure Gold's revenues in the first quarter were 15 per cent lower compared to the same period last year, Mr Merchant said, falling from Dh142 million (US$38.6m) to Dh120m. However, he said the company had fared better than competitors, thanks to heavy marketing in recent months of discount campaigns.
The promotions included a one-carat diamond ring discounted from the market price of Dh18,000 down to Dh12,999, a scratch-and-win game that offered products at discounts ranging from 60 per cent off up to totally free, and a buyback guarantee, Mr Merchant said. "It's very hard to survive unless you come up with something different, something new." The company's expansion announcement comes at a time when demand for gold jewellery in particular has dropped by 31 per cent, according to the World Gold Council.
Mr Merchant said the company closed at least eight underperforming stores this year, including its shops in Souk Al Bahar near the Burj Dubai, and in Wafi City. However, Mr Merchant said, the company would reopen those two stores in better locations. He said he was closely monitoring store sales, but would only lay off members of the company's 450 staff if they were underperforming Mr Merchant said he was confident jewellery demand would stay strong enough to support the company's future expansion. "Spending never dies, only the spending concept changes," he said. "Depending on my income, I'll come down, but I cannot stop spending."