Indians are crazy about gold jewellery, to a point. Demand for the bling has some resilience against shocks in a country obsessed with large weddings and with putting savings into yellow metal. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting time for a purveyor of high-value, discretionary items to prepare for a market debut.
Kerala-based Kalyan Jewellers, a designer, manufacturer, and seller of everything from gold coins to elaborately studded trinkets, has filed for an $238 million initial public offering. The deal will hand a partial exit to U.S. private equity firm Warburg Pincus, which invested back in 2014 and owns about 30% of the company on a fully diluted basis. Kalyan now boasts 107 showrooms across India, including a sizeable presence in the Middle East.
The parade to public markets comes at a time of uncertainty about the speed and quantum of any rebound in purchases of wedding jewellery, Kalyan’s highest-selling product category. The company has permanently closed some showrooms in the Gulf. And overall demand in India for jewellery, a $64 billion market, is expected to contract by a massive 30% in the year to March 2021, according to Technopak Analysis and other research cited in Kalyan’s draft IPO prospectus.
Against this backdrop, Kalyan boasts a few platinum qualities. It has managed to reopen most of its stores and is already seeing returning customers spend on a level broadly in line with pre-Covid-19. That might be pent-up demand. But Kalyans’ rebounding sales in a shrinking market also suggests it is winning share alongside those that can also offer a more spacious, hygienic sales experience to doting brides and their families. That’s no small feat in an industry comprising more than 500,000 local goldsmiths and jewellers.
Existing investors, including Warburg, might dream of a valuation of as much as $1.7 billion, based on the dizzying multiple of 86 times trailing earnings of its top pan-India rival, the $14 billion Titan, backed by the deep-pocketed Tata group. But Kalyan’s earnings are more volatile and its margins slightly narrower. Titan’s well-known parent and more established digital sales platform also stand out. The newest piece of jewellery in the cabinet will deserve a smudge of a discount.