Sélim Chidiac
Chief Executive Officer-L'azurde

In an exclusive Sélim Chidiac, CEO - Lazurde Group opines on the current market scenario and talks about the company’s expansion strategy. Excerpts:

The last few months have been tough for the gems and jewellery sector especially Large Retail stores in the Middle Eastern region. What according to you have been the important factors instrumental for this slowdown and how has L'azurde coped with this in terms of expansion and growth?
There are a range of macro issues which have affected a slowdown in the jewelry sector towards the end of 2015 and the beginning of this year. Clearly, recent months has seen shifts in economic and political conditions that have not just impacted the Middle East, but countries around the world. The lower oil prices and overall geopolitical situation are affecting consumer spending and consumer confidence. We remain very bullish about the future of the industry in our region. We see many opportunities to grow the business by gaining market share thanks to our relentless products innovation strategy, brand strength and the marketing and sales initiatives. In addition, we are also pursuing our expansion strategy by growing our mono brand L’azurde retail network, as well as expanding our geographic reach into new territories.

We have witnessed very few or no retail brands expanding and building its business out of the GCC region in Europe, or the US. Do you think L'AZURDE is equipped to become the foremost International Brand diversifying out of the GCC region? If Yes, Why?
I believe L’azurde is exceptionally positioned to lead on this trend of international expansion. Our business model, which spans across the entire value chain, and our scale and technological capabilities provide us with the right platform for growth. Our heritage and experience in the jewelry industry allows us to fully appreciate the requirements needed to potentially enter new geographies. This approach is centered around catering for local needs and cultural tastes, as well as creating the right entry strategy and working model to ensure long-term success. We sell branded jewelry and we continuously engage with the best design talents and partners to create unique and glamorous products that are customized and appeal to consumers in all our target markets.

There have been instances of Lab grown Diamonds being mixed with Natural Diamonds during the production process. What is your advice to the trade on such incidents and do you subscribe to selling Laboratory grown Diamonds in jewellery with due diligence?
L’azurde only works with natural diamonds as it is our belief that this approach adds value and sentimental significance to each piece of jewelry. The jewelry we create needs to not only look beautiful, but also to retain its worth and withstand the test of time. We do not believe in the value and consumer offer using Lab grown Diamonds.

There are various consumer exhibitions, Trade shows and Industry events such as the 'Middle East Jewellery Designers’ Forum' being organised at frequent intervals in the GCC region. How important are such trade events for L’azurde and how does these events help L’azurde in positioning the Brand?
These events are important for the industry to improve collaboration, drive knowledge and seek improvement. We continuously search for new business opportunities, therefore, these forums are the best way to keep abreast of the latest developments in the sector and build connections with potential partners who can benefit L’azurde in the future.