Covid-19 pandemic has crippled India's economy. With major festivals, weddings & events being cancelled or postponed, the jewellery industry took a major hit this year. In the beginning of 2020, diamond companies had anticipated a great run for trade but the pandemic changed everything. "Diamonds worth Rs. 50,000 crores are exported every year from Surat to Hong Kong. But, the Surat Diamond Industry has already witnessed a loss of over Rs. 8000 crores", says Dinesh Navadiya, Chairman of Gems & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC).
Because of the pandemic, our domestic as well as international operations were severely impacted. China & US, two of our biggest markets were under complete or partial lockdown due to the preventive measures taken by the government. On the buying front, the ban on international travel made it extremely difficult for us to source the required rough.
Keeping the morale high for our workforce in manufacturing units was another herculean task. People were finding it extremely difficult to make ends meet which in turn affected their morale & working skills, especially for cutting & polishing since it's a skill that needs to be practiced regularly.
While "pay cuts" & "job cuts" became the norm of almost every industry, we at Laxmi Diamond, retained all of our employees. During the pandemic, we and our managers were in constant touch with all our employees through group chats. And after unlock, we took extreme preventive measures & ensured deep sanitization procedures to welcome our employees back to work.
There have been quite a few challenges during this pandemic ranging from logistical hindrances to manufacturing inefficiencies. However, this pause gave us time to think & be critical about our business practices so that we can find out areas of improvement. We realized that integrating technology in our manufacturing and sales operations is the only way to grow the company overseas & to grow in the future. Giving our customers the convenience to buy our products online without compromising on their buying experience is our immediate goal. Even though there haven’t been any exhibitions this year due to Covid, we found ways to stay in touch with our existing and potential customers. We arranged virtual exhibitions and revamped our e-commerce portal. We managed to have a behavioural change in our customers by making them let go of an age old practice of buying diamonds physically & instead letting them buy those diamonds online. Such is the power of technology, we have not faced any losses since we resumed our business post lockdown.
We initiated a lot of CSR activities during the lockdown. Our hospital in Amreli played a crucial role in providing immediate healthcare & financial assistance to those in need. From the distribution of over 2000 meals per day to providing shelters in our boarding schools, LD family is available 24*7 to fight against the pandemic.
No, I see this as an opportunity to come out stronger. Despite the short-term drawbacks in the industry like loss of employment, health risks & financial instability, we are anticipating the diamond industry to be more stabilized with lesser uncertainties & better prospects in 2021. We plan to continue what we have been doing which is providing the best to our customers. Looking forward to a more successful & safer new year!