By Andy Sambidge
UAE jewellery retail giant says Indian market is key to company's growth.
Damas International has entered into a strategic alliance with India's Gitanjali Gems Ltd to open more than 100 stores by 2014, it was announced on Monday.
PK Dutta, group chief financial officer, Damas Jewellery, said the move would "strategically position it as the business partner of choice internationally".
He said the group was now looking to explore the Indian market with a partner who has in-depth local market expertise.
Giving details about the investment in India, Dutta said: "We will be partnering with the well known Gitanjali jewellery group in India with Damas holding about 51 percent stake.
"We will open stores under our own brand name but we have not ruled out any opportunity to take over existing stores there, if feasible. The critical engine for fruitful growth in India will be value, trust, services, reliability, designs, innovativeness."
He added: "Damas views the Asian sub-continent, particularly India, as an engine of growth that will help in both our strategic principles as well as long-term shareholders values."
However, he ruled out any "immediate plans" to list on India's stock markets.
Family-controlled Damas - the first retail company to list on the Nasdaq Dubai in July - operates in 18 countries.
Dubai has the highest concentration of jewellery shops in the world, generating trade worth $35 billion in 2007 - 20 percent of the $173 billion total global jewellery trade.
Sales volumes at Damas fell 11 percent in the first quarter, compared to the same period last year, a drop attributed to a fall in consumer spending on gold, due to high prices in the period.