Spreading Wings of Change In Small-town India

Meet Mohit Sheth, one of the scions of Batukbhai Sons Jewellers, Nagpur, a tier II town of India, with ambitious plans to take the family business to the next level. The world is an oyster for Mohit, who is armed with degrees from international institutions, and he is leaving no stone unturned to make a meaningful contribution to his family business and conquer the consumer mind space.

Mohit Sheth of Batukbhai Sons Jewellers, Nagpur, has big plans to change his established family jewellery business. He completed his Higher Secondary education at a boarding school in Mulshi near Pune and did his further studies at Mumbai’s Jai Hind College. It was during this period that he began working part-time at various vendor factories to learn the ropes of the jewellery business. He graduated from Regents College London, and completed a gemmology course from GIA, New York.

Store interiors of Batukbhai Sons Jewellers.

He developed a close circle of friends from different nationalities during his GIA stint. When he formally joined the business in 2016, Mohit spotted an opportunity in international trading, and began buying rough diamonds from his friends in Africa and selling polished diamonds to Africa, USA, and Italy. The volumes were initially small as his family had not dabbled in exports before. He then started selling jewellery in the US market, and the move proved fruitful as the business has picked up since then.

Next, Batukbhai started participating in wedding-related consumer exhibitions in Raipur, Indore, and Mumbai. The heartwarming response helped spread the goodwill of Batukbhai Sons among its old and new customers all over India.

Mohit considers his company’s relationship with artisans as a competitive advantage. “We have built a network of highly skilled karigars in Nagpur. We help them by buying machinery so that they can build their workshops and conduct business. Not just infrastructure, we have also provided them accommodation. My dad is emotionally involved with them and treats them as family.”

Having spent many years away from the family, Mohit realises that family is a powerful institution – all the business decisions are taken by consensus, but at the same time, the seniors Kishore and Bharat Sheth encourage their sons Mohit and Viraj, respectively, by giving them more freedom to explore new ventures.

A pair of designer earrings set with diamonds and gemstones.

Post-pandemic sales

Mohit points out some changes in the buying behaviour of consumers, post Covid-19: clients opt for lower-ticket items but are buying frequently; jewellery set with solitaires and colour gemstones have improved; and daily wear jewellery is preferred to heavy items.

“Younger customers are no longer particular about the buyback value of coloured stones,” Mohit states.

“While all family members have an eye for design, our focus is more on product merchandising. We jointly spot design trends, along with our in-house design team, and plan new collections,” he comments, adding, “Growth rates have been phenomenal this year (2021). Compared to 2020, we have already registered a growth of over 60% across all categories, especially solitaires that have pushed our sales.”

Mohit and his wife, Naina.

Expansion plans

Batukbhai Sons Jewellers is planning to capitalise on its position as a wedding jewellery specialist and soon open a new showroom, close to its flagship store.

“Imitation and fashion jewellery is another growing segment and we have dedicated a small store that retails 1 gm gold jewellery and lines set with cubic zirconia. We are also closely examining the prospect of selling jewellery set with lab-grown diamonds and contemplating opening retail stores in smaller towns such as Yavatmal, Amravati and Chandrapur as we have a sizable customer base there,” notes Mohit.

A grand bridal necklace.

Enthused about pushing growth plans, Mohit says, “Gifting and accessories is yet another category that helps us attract new set of customers to our store. We also retail international fashion brands such as Roberto Cavalli, Rosenthal and Versace.”

Rural and small-town consumers have turned digital savvy and use the online medium for discovering new products. They may not necessarily buy online, but it does lead to sales in the offline world, he notes.

Mohit’s wife Naina, a former consultant with Ernst and Young, has joined the family business to explore new growth avenues. Her international consulting experience is a big plus, and though she has no previous experience in jewellery, she understands the fashion business quite well, and is expected to bring about a cross-pollination of ideas in jewellery.

The husband-and-wife team are working closely with Mohit’s cousin Viraj on social media and digital marketing. Also on cards is an online portal that will exclusively sell silver fashion jewellery.

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