BY PATIENCE RADISOENG
Batswana are leading the customer base at the De Beers Group’s Forevermark store located at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA) in Gaborone, the company has said.
De Beers’s executive vice president of diamond trading, Paul Rowley recently revealed that the Forevermark store at SSKIA is progressing well.
“Our sales indicate that 4 out of every 5 purchases are by Batswana,” Rowley highlighted.
He said the Store which sells exclusive diamond jewelry from the group producing countries of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Canada has also being good in upgrading and expanding their network as one of their efforts is to explore Africa as one of its consumer markets.
Thus even though the diamond miner cited a number of challenges for rough diamond sales in the reporting period, resulting from cyclical factors, changing industry dynamics and macroeconomic challenges, Rowley also stated that the brand now has 20 directly owned stores plus 12 franchise stores in 16 countries.
The company added that the impact of some challenges were likely to be short term, while it predicted a healthier industry outlook over the long term.
“Forevermark is now available in more than 2, 400 retail outlets in 32 different markets where a new partnership with World Diamond Group has extended its licensee operations in Europe and Italy,” he noted.
Rowley said in 2018 the group invested US$166 million in marketing activities, the highest amount in more than a decade which they intend to increase spend further in 2019.
Meanwhile the group’s Vice President Corporate Affairs and Government Relations Pat Dambe added that the Forevermark is intending to collaborate with local designers to create a product that can be incorporated in the store.
“De Beers and government have now partnered with Thamaga pottery to bring back its renaissance,” she continued.
Dambe also said the partnership will include among others taking design students to work with some of the ladies at Thamaga Pottery, redoing the production site and redoing the marketing, including through digital marketing.
One of the company’s major progress on projects and initiatives include subsidiary Debswana starting its cut-9 project to extent the Jwaneng mine life.
The investment is said to extend the life of the mine until 2035 and is expected to yield 53 million carats of rough diamonds from 44 million tonnes of treated material.
Executive Vice President of Commercial and Partnerships-Alessandra Berridge said Debswana will invest approximately US$2 billion over the life of the project and at its peak Cut-9 is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs, the majority of which will be held by Batswana citizens.
Adding that work has already commenced to remove 513 million tonnes of waste material to expose diamond bearing ore and recovery of diamonds is expected to start by 2027.