From 200 gms of gold and a small shop, here's how Kashi Jewellers grew to an 11,000 sq ft store exporting overseas
In 1948 when Kanpur was known as the trading hub of North India for all types of products—from masalas, oils, and flour to jewellery—Keshav Nath Kapoor hit upon an idea to start his own jewellery manufacturing and trade business in the city.
However, he was stymied by the lack of banks and other credit facilities; he just didn’t have the resources to capitalise on his idea.
But, he didn’t give up. He had a dream to shine in the city’s jewellery market, which, at that time, had only two other jewellery brands — Bhagatram Jai Narayan Jewels and PP Society. So, he forged ahead to melt his wife’s 200 gm of jewellery and initiate his entrepreneurial journey by starting Kashi Jewellers.
In an interaction with SMBStory, Shreyansh Kapoor, a third-generation entrepreneur of Kashi Jewellers Pvt Ltd, says,
“My grandfather first set up the shop in Nachghar, Kanpur (on now-Birhana Road) and became among the first three manufacturers and retailers of jewellery. Rather, he was one of the first to abandon the traditional floor-seated jewellery-selling model and brought in over-the-counter sales.”
A vision to bring in change
In the 1970s Shreyansh’s father joined the business. A graduate of IIT Kanpur, he went to Canada for his higher studies. However, due to the premature demise of Keshav Nath at the age of 42, he had to come back to take forward the family business. Shreyansh says,
“My father had big visions which he incorporated in the business. He was one of the first in the jewellery market to introduce female staff to present the jewellery, which was until then dominated by males. Back then, many ladies who used to visit the store to buy gold didn’t feel comfortable with this.”
In 1979, Kashi Jewellers started exporting and embarked on expanding its sales to Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. Shreyansh says that, at that time, gold jewellery was still a nascent market and the government used to organise various exhibitions in the Gulf countries. Kashi Jewellers used to export through these exhibitions.
The company then expanded its reach to London in 1985 and thereafter began sales to the United States in 1992 and was working with the top retailers in the States.
In recent times
In 2002, Kashi Jewellers registered itself as an SEZ company, and by 2004, when the European market started developing, it made an entry there too.
Shreyans says most of the jewellery pieces are manufactured in Kolkata as the company-employed artisans are Bengalis and only 5 to 10 percent of the production is done in Kanpur.
“We have around 200 to 250 people employed with us and Kolkata is our main hub for manufacturing because of easy connectivity to the airport for trade and good power connection.”
The company sources all the materials, like the gold from State Bank of India, diamonds from Mumbai and Surat, and coloured gems from Jaipur.
Shreyansh shares that Kashi Jewellers currently has one flagship store spread across 11,000 sqft and four factories that cater to the wide wholesale network. The company is seeing a growth of 30 percent year-on-year.
Challenges and competition
Shreyansh says the company believes in volume-based sales. And for that, they are aiming for an alignment in expansion and costing.
“We want to expand but without any liability. If you go today to take a loan, banks charge a minimum of 12 percent interest which is three times more than the Indian economy, so how can we be dependent on debt for expansion?” points out Shreyansh.
Kashi Jewellers stands out in the market with a wide range of stock and jewellery designs which many other big brands lack. “In a small city, the entrepreneur has to show his concern and focus for the customer and this is the only way of surviving the competition,” the entrepreneur adds.
“To date, we attend to our customers personally and have not increased our prices. We ensure whoever visits our store leaves happy,” he says.
Kashi Jewellers has won many laurels both nationally and internationally, highlighting its recognition as a heritage jewellery brand the worldover. The brand has been honoured by two former Indian presidents, Pratibha Devisingh Patel in 2012 and then Pranab Mukherjee in 2013. These achievements are unique, making it the only jewellers to win an award for ‘Excellence in Manufacturing & Entrepreneurship’ at Vigyan Bhawan, Delhi.
It also has the distinction of winning awards in the categories of ‘Three Decades of Excellence’, Outstanding Enterprise of the Year – India’, and ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ at the JNA Awards in Hong Kong for four years running, from 2012 to 2015.
Recently, Kashi Jewellers was felicitated with the ‘No. 1 Exporter Award’ in the gems and jewellery sector by the Uttar Pradesh Government.
Talking about the future plans of the company, Shreyansh says the company is ready to expand its footprint.
However, the more immediate and key focus is to increase the space of the flagship store to augment their jewellery showcase and accommodate more customers while also giving them a personalised shopping experience, he adds.
(Edited by Athirupa Geetha Manichandar)