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AfricaMoney | August 18, 2017

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Retail ExpertSpeak: Scarcity of skilled labour in jewellery sector in Mauritius

Retail ExpertSpeak: Scarcity of skilled labour in jewellery sector in Mauritius

Mauritius-based jewellery retail chain Ravior’s marketing director, Raksha Basanta Lala, spoke to AfricaMoney on how scarcity of skilled labour and labour in general is affecting the niche jewellery sector seriously, and urged youth to learn about jewellery and enter this sector. (Image: Ravior)

Raksha Basanta Lala, Marketing Director at Ravior, spoke to AfricaMoney on the key achievements of the Mauritius-based jewellery retail chain, since it started out as a small jewellery shop in the early eighties, to a retail chain known for world-class products which exports to Madagascar and Réunion Island. Our sector expert noted that scarcity of skilled labour and ‘labour’ in general is a factor that affects the niche jewellery sector seriously, and urged youth to learn about jewellery and enter this sector.

Edited excerpts from an exclusive interview:

What are the key achievements of Ravior since inception?

The journey of Ravior started in the early eighties in Mauritius with a small jewellery shop. Ravior has, over the years, through perseverance, grown into a modern, yet traditional enterprise with four outlets, (Quatre Bornes, Port Louis, Rivière Noire and Airport), providing employment to some 25 people. Ravior is also present on the international market and exhibits its collection in Denmark. Ravior has its own workshop with its own craftsmen manufacturing jewellery designed by own in house designer. Ravior has thus built a strong brand image and identity in the jewellery sector. Ravior has also kept pace with new developments, in terms of modern technology, acquisition of high-tech equipment, having its own website, marketing online, etc. Ravior can thus pride itself for designing jewellery based on the requirement of its customers.

How does Ravior position itself to customers in terms of branding of its jewellery products? 

Ravior has devoted lots of effort towards the creation of its own brand of jewellery. A jewellery from Ravior is characterised by quality, uniqueness and creativity. Each piece produced at Ravior is a unique and powerful work of art. Our tag line is ‘crafted to evoke’ and yes, each of our pieces is meant to ‘evoke’ an aesthetic experience. Ravior is synonymous with designer jewellery and is one among the very few jewellers in Mauritius to offer a service for made-to-order jewellery.

At the sixth edition of the Mauritius Business Excellence Award (MBEA) Competition 2013 on October 10, 2014, Ravior Co Ltd was the winner under the medium enterprises segment. What are the factors behind your success?

The factors that define the success of Ravior are firstly good management with core values and a vision that keeps propelling Ravior to the forefront. Also hardwork, teamwork, a quest for excellence in whatever we do, the creation of avant-garde jewellery pieces, are the main factors that have led to the success of Ravior.

Ravior exports its jewellery to Madagascar, Reunion Island and France. What is the approximate contribution of these geographies to the company?  

Penetrating the international jewellery market is a colossal job. However, Ravior has today been able to export a small portion of its jewellery to Madagascar and Réunion Island. As regards France, Ravior is presently exploring the possibilities of exporting to the country.

What are the challenges faced in the jewellery sector nowadays, and in particular, is scarcity of skilled labour an issue that the sector faces?

Scarcity of skilled labour and ‘labour’ in general is a factor that affects our sector seriously. Some of the challenges facing the jewellery sector are lack of training in jewellery sector, increase in ‘overheads’ and the fact that removal of duty from imported jewellery has not helped the jewellery manufacturers in Mauritius.

Recently, the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) has highlighted the jewellery, gems and watches sector as a sector of focus for upskilling labour. According to you, what can be done to promote the development of labour force for the growth of the jewellery sector?

First up, the training centers for jewellery must upgrade their courses; secondly, the jewellery sector should be marketed as a sector with interesting job prospects; and thirdly, the youth should be encouraged to learn about jewellery and enter this sector.

Mauritius is taking great strides in the exports of jewellery and related goods, which went up nearly 12% between 2008 and 2013, according to an MCB report. What, in your view, are some of the factors responsible for this upswing?

Mauritius has a real competitive edge compared to other countries. We have a good image worldwide, a stable economy, a ‘bilingual’ population, ‘creativity’ in our blood and special agreements with other countries.

Finally, please let us know your views on the Mauritian economy in regards to the jewellery sector, and the way forward.

The government should encourage Mauritian creativity, craftsmanship, by giving incentives and support schemes. The island economy must re-introduce duty on imported jewellery and ensure stringent quality control on imported jewellery.

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