Spearheading India's Jewellery Saga, Keeping the Cultural Value Intact
How this entrepreneur transformed India's leading jewellery brand from an old school business to a professionally run corporate entity with global ambitions
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India is a land of family businesses. Apart from century-old empires, professional knowledge, skills and business acumen are apparently inherited from generation to generation. What makes each one different is the amount of value they add to their legacy through the course. The well-structured education system today has further added to the skills of a young entrepreneur looking to take their ancestral lineage forward.
One such name is Saurabh Vidyahar Gadgil, the heir of India's leading jewellery brand – PNG Jewellers. Ever since taking over the business in the late 1990s, Gadgil has played an instrumental role in transforming the jewellery brand's image from an old school business to a professionally run corporate entity with global ambitions. Entrepreneur India got candid with this entrepreneur to understand his contribution to the success saga in the history of jewellery in India.
From Street-side Gold Sellers to PNG Jewellers
Not many are aware that the Gadgil forefathers used to sell gold sitting on the streets in a basket in the early 1800s for the people to buy. Then began the tale of jewellery revolution as Ganesh Narayan Gadgil incepted "Purushottam Narayan Gadgil & Co' in 1832 after moving to Sangli. The visionary businessman took the brand to newer heights with his creative instincts and keen business acumen.
For almost two centuries, PNG Jewellers has delighted generations of satisfied customers with superior quality jewellery. Through its persistent effort to ensure customer satisfaction, PNG Jewellers have built credibility and personified heritage and tradition. Saurabh Gadgil's entry into the business transformed the brand from an owner-driven business to a professionally-run enterprise.
Ever since then, the business has successfully entered and explored fresh business horizons by foraying in the field of Financial Services, Hospitality, Education, Digital VFX Studio, Real Estate and Diamond Jewellery Manufacturing. For 187 years, the brand's DNA has been rooted in loyalty, purity, service and quality while crafting unique masterpieces.
Growth & Interests
PNG has always believed in preserving the country's heritage and culture. If its wide range of jewellery and artefacts made of silver, pearls and diamonds as well as precious and semi-precious stones is not enough to get the point across, its curated range of jewellery through handmade karigari and hours of labour work further provides a testimony.
People spend their hard-earned savings to invest in these masterpieces. "We wanted to have a similar association where the same kind of trust is available and that's when we took the real estate," Gadgil inputted answering why he forayed into real estate, adding, "We believe that every person should complete their education. We have been very particular about the next generation being educated." While the brand is exploring other fields, these two are its focus areas.
In true sense, PNG started expanding in 2000. Today, the brand has 25 stores across the nation, 3 in the USA and 1 in the UAE. The brand has been a source of employment for more than 1500 people. Notably, they were the first jewellers of Pune who got all their diamond jewellery certified by International Gemological.
Shift the Paradigm
Millennials are the consumers of today and tomorrow. The younger generation has a more subtle approach to wearing jewellery. Unlike the older times when festive seasons and wedding days would generate an urge to celebrate and buy jewellery, millennials put more focus on little occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
Welcoming the changing trends, PNG has launched its e-shopping facility which is one of its kinds among Indian based Traditional Jewellers. In an attempt to make the shopping experience personalized for customers, the brand has resorted to online payment options, social media campaigns and market researches to analyze the current trends. "For them, it is not the product but the entire experience that matters."
"Customer has become more aware and demanding. At the same time, the customers are willing to pay for the right buy. Today, it's all about experimental buying and the entire package," Gadgil provided, adding, "Today's customer look at the entire 360-degree approach of buying and not just what has been brought or where it has been brought from."
To further enhance the customer experience, PNG has set up 'Try-on kiosks' at all stores. These kiosks are computer-like screens where customers try different designs of jewellery virtually. Customers can also create their own profile, sign-in and access it from anywhere over the internet. It allows them to capture high-resolution images, save snapshots and make product comparisons before finalizing on the product.
Franchising it Right
Having introduced its franchise expansion in July 2018, PNG Jewellers hopes to introduce at least 20 new outlets till 2020. The brand opened stores in Aundh and Pimple Saudagar in October. Jewellery business has a lot of entry barrier in terms of creating connections with the customers and being able to adapt technologies for new generations, Gadgil said.
In smaller towns, a lot of smaller shopkeepers who have been in the business for decades are losing customers as the customers have become more demanding in terms of design and technology. Franchising a model like PNG's provides a platform to them to put their expertise in business to use with the proper knowledge and training provided to them.
"For example, I am a farmer and my main business is agriculture and I want to invest in a way that it gives me a steady return and the model is risk-free, so these people take our franchisee. We have two models – Franchise-owned and franchise-operated," Gadgil explained. It helps because, in small towns, local businesses have goodwill and coupled with big brands' goodwill, it works very well.