CEO of Jewellery Division at Titan Private Limited Ajoy Chawla recently got in an exclusive conversation with NewsX for its special segment NewsX A-list. As the festive season inches closer, Mr Ajoy spoke out not just the significance and inspiration behind Zoya’s latest collection ‘Rooted’ but also reflected upon the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the jewellery sector.

Talking about the significance of naming Zoya’s new collection Rooted, Mr Ajoy expressed, “The Zoya journey is an interesting journey. As a luxury brand, it targets the modern royalty of today. This woman is well travelled and best exposed to the world, aesthetically very astute and a very discerning customer. More importantly, her journey has been that of the heroine, in which she starts off looking up to her father, the father figure in her family and her life because of his achievements and what he does. She aims to be like him and grows up as a successful professional artist. Having been there and done that, she realises that it is not her entire self. There is something more to her. There is a feminine self that she has perhaps left behind. That’s when she starts re-connecting back to her feminine self. It could be through creative pursuits in her life, through gardening or some nurturing aspects. As she re-connects with her femininity, that journey begins to get completed. That’s what Zoya has dipped into and we find that true for many of our customers.”

Sharing the inspiration behind this collection, Mr Ajoy said, “In this journey, we recognise that there is achievement, strength, resilience and nurturance. It’s a mix of all these. The inspiration of this collection was the rainforest. The rainforest is exotic, beautiful, colourful. The rainforest nurtures everything- from the smallest to the biggest organisms. It towers above but it also goes deep down to the earth. The rainforest is the symbol for us of both nurturance and inner strength and resilience. That’s how we have christened this collection as ‘Rooted’. “

On launching the collection during festive season amid Covid-19, he shared, “Our customers look forward to new and exciting collections from Zoya every year. We launch a couple of collections every year and one of them is pre-festive. Our customers are with us, even though these are Covid times. In the last few months we have seen that the Zoya customer is very happy to celebrate personal milestones and important events in life. They are afraid to step out of their home but very keen to buy. We have seen that that we have had to reach out and reach out remotely through video and online. As they look at all the products, they shortlist and we take it to their homes. Zoya goes to the customer. We don’t see a problem with footfalls as it is not important. It is more important to connect with the customer and we are seeing a fantastic response even during this phase. We have seen 80-90% recovery in Zoya and we don’t see why the festive fervor should be any less.”

When asked the impact of lockdown on jewellery sector, Mr Ajoy revealed, “Certainly, the lockdown hurt every retailer and every jeweller especially when everything was shut and nobody could come into the stores. As we started re-opening, we found a very good recovery. Initially we were wondering whether it is more to do with pent up demand and there might have been a little bit of that as people wanted to get on with purchases. Having said that, the last few months have been pretty good. We are close to 90% recovery rate. Both for Zoya and Tanishq, and even for CaratLane, we are seeing a very good recovery. As long as we are able to reach out to our customers, they are happy to buy. For Tanishq, the footfall is lesser than before but it is also good because we want to ensure that there is social distancing. “

He further outlined three steps that the brand undertook to mitigate tough times and get back to new normal. “During the lockdown, we reached out to all our customers simply to ask for their well-being and if they needed any help. These were just empathy calls without any agenda or sympathy. The customers were very touched by that. As soon as we started opening up, we said that we must put the best safety protocols in the industry. We devised what we would like to believe ‘the gold standard in safety’. We have added on to those protocols over the last few months. We made our audits even more rigorous and there is zero compromise when it comes to safety. That gave our customers a lot of confidence. The third thing that we have been doing is that we have engaged in a lot of remote shopping assistance. We have increased the online presence by putting a lot more products online. Along with that, we have enabled video shopping though personal assistance. People can book appointments or we would reach out to customers and engage with them on WhatsApp. So, remote shopping is beginning to contribute close to 10% of our monthly sale.”

On a parting note, Mr Ajoy shared that they hope to have a 100% recovery by Q4.“We want to have a 100% recovery by Q4, which means not just to the levels we were but get to the growth stage. So far, we have only seen 90% recovery. We hope the wedding and festive season would be good full-fledged season sale. Let’s see where it takes us.”