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Damas vs Joy Alukkas

Even as gold sales plunge in the Middle East, the two jewelers are trying their best to woo buyers. Who is shining brighter?

According to recent media reports, sales of gold and jewellery have fallen by up to 45 percent in Dubai and by 20 percent in Abu Dhabi during the first quarter of this year. Tushar Patni, the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Gold and Jewellery Group, told The National that 4,500kg of gold was sold in the first three months of this year, down from 5,500kg during the same period last year. He said that apart from the economic slowdown, high gold prices also deterred buyers.

This will mean that retailers like the Damas group and Joy Alukkas will have to compete heavily with each other to win the few customers still buying.

Who are they?

Alukkas Jewellery was founded by the Varghese Alukkas in Kerala, India in 1956. His son, Joy Alukkas, came to the UAE in 1987, and set up his first shop in Abu Dhabi, followed by Dubai, Sharjah, Al Ain and Ras Al Khaimah. A year later, Joy Alukkas started his own group, which slowly expanded across the Gulf and India, and in 2001, became an independent business identity. The jewelry group now also has outlets in Europe.

Some of its brands include Aamira, Bakiamore, Ebru, Mermaid, Teens and Twenties, and Zenina.

The company made more than AED3 billion last year, and says that it sells 80kg of gold every day.

Damas attributes its origins to Mohammed Tawfique Abdullah, who used to design, craft and sell gold jewelry to retailers in Syria in the early 1900s. In 1955, his son, Mohammed Taher Abdullah, moved to Dubai and opened a goldsmith’s shop under the name Al Abdullah Jewellery Traders. The first retail outlet branded as Damas was started in 1959, and went on to expand across the region and internationally. It now has outlets in the US, UK, India, Thailand, the Maldives, Italy and Japan.

It also represents international brands including Tiffany, Mikimoto, Daniel K, Gucci, Faberge and Carrera y Carrera. The in-house collections include bridal jewelry, brands such as Boudoor, Hayati, Harmony, Farfasha, Al Manthura, and watch brands Varotti and Aquamarin.

In July 2008, Damas listed on NASDAQ Dubai after launching an initial public offering that brought in more than $270 million to the company. Currently, however, its shares are not doing too well; on Monday they declined by 8.77 percent.


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