De Beers to invest $10 bn for global expansion

To expand in China, India markets

London-based De Beers Group, that specialises in diamond exploration, mining, retail, trading and industrial diamond manufacturing, has embarked on a $10 billion five-year global market and mine expansion drive.

Stephen Lussier, executive vice-president — marketing, De Beers Group and also chairman of Forevermark, the group’s diamond brand, told The Hindu that the group had chalked out a major global expansion plan that would include a combination of inorganic and organic activities, technology upgradation, adding more mining ships to its existing five such vessels plus expanding existing key markets, including China, India, the U.S. and Japan.

“We are investing $10 billion towards various global expansion activities planned for the next five years.

‘Add more ships

“Our mandate is to expand’ the life of existing mines and make them technologically advanced. We will also be adding more mining ships, each at a cost of $500 million. We are focussing on future smart mining to improve overall safety in diamond mining. With this, locating pure and natural diamonds will also come easy for us,” he said.

De Beers mines 30 million carats of diamonds per annum. Nine out 10 diamonds it sells globally are sold in India. The group has a strong clientele in the country who buy rough and uncut diamonds from them.

Commenting on the performance of De Beer’s retail diamond brand, Forevermark in India, he said: “We have recorded a 36% growth during the first half of 2019 against the corresponding period last year. China is our largest market currently, but the country is just 20% ahead of India in terms of value and we see India catching up.’’

Mr. Lussier further said, “We are significantly expanding our existing presence all over the world, including in India at least by 10%. Forevermark brought in $750 million to our group revenue of $6 billion last year and we want to grow this to over $1 billion by 2020.’’

De Beers has seven diamond mines in Africa and Canada. It has recently acquired a new mine in Canada, investing around $2 billion.

Responding to a query on the appetite for diamonds among Indians, Mr. Lussier elaborated: “In China, people prefer simple designs with single diamonds. Wedding rings/bands category is the lead category in China. India is different and we see a large number of women going for intricate designs with multiple diamonds.’’

Forevermark already has over 2000 designs under four different categories — enigma, on the wave, culture fusion and one of a kind. The brand has recently launched 20 different models of stackable rings in India, that can be worn as a mix and match.

De Beer sees India as a big bangle market and the diamond player will soon launch a special collection of bangles studded with a few diamonds to up to 50 diamonds in the price range of $500 to $60,000.

De Beers’ Forevermark diamonds are sold through 240 stores in India while it has 2,500 stores across 32 geographies.

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