Gold retailers need creativity to avoid sales slump

DMCC chief says new products, not gold price seen as key driver behind sales
Gold retailers need creativity to avoid sales slump
Sky-high gold prices have deterred customers in Abu Dhabi and in Dubai
By Reuters
Tue 04 Oct 2011 11:41 AM

Gold retailers in the United Arab Emirates have to be more
versatile with their products to avoid falling sales, a senior industry
official said on Monday, defying retailers' complaints that the booming gold
price has deterred customers.

"Retailers obviously do not have a challenge, they just
need to change the shelf line to reflect 2011," Ahmed bin Sulayem,
executive chairman of Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) told reporters at a
press conference.

To raise sales, retailers need to catch up with changes in
the market, Sulayem said, adding that Dubai's jewellery designs have a shelf
life of three to four years and products older than that should be changed.

"[Jewellers] can remanufacture it, or send it to
refineries or sell it as gold bars, if gold bars are going really higher,"
he said.

Sky-high gold prices have deterred customers in Abu Dhabi
and in Dubai, major consumption centers, prompting consumers to shift to
silver.

Bullion prices surged some 40 percent this year to hit a
peak in September above $1,920 an ounce before dropping sharply.

Retailers asked for support from the Dubai government but
Sulayem believed they do not require much government interference.

"The fact that they're still here after the credit
crunch and recession tells me they know what's happening in the market. They
know how their clientele operates and what they need to do," he said.

In March, the World Gold Council shut down its office in the
UAE, citing a strategic review of its operations. But traders said rising gold
prices hitting the retail industry was the reason behind the Council's move.

Branded as the city of gold, around 17 percent of the
world's gold trade passes through Dubai, while the emirate's demand accounts
for about 3 to 5 percent of global consumption, Gerhard Schubert, head of
precious metals at Emirates NBD, said.

Rising uncertainty about the health of European and US
economies and disappointment in traditional investments such as currencies have
prompted customers to increase their physical gold purchases, Schubert said.

"The world, over the next three to five years, is
clearly looking towards Asia. And what better place to be than at the
crossroads between West and East. I think Dubai has a great potential
there."

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