L’azurde CEO expects to overcome inflation headwind with new affordable jewelry line

Exclusive L’azurde CEO expects to overcome inflation headwind with new affordable jewelry line
The growth in net profit was primarily caused by an increase in sales and revenue for the quarter of 11 percent to stand at SR614.5 million. (Supplied)
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Updated 24 May 2022

L’azurde CEO expects to overcome inflation headwind with new affordable jewelry line

L’azurde CEO expects to overcome inflation headwind with new affordable jewelry line
  • Saudi jeweler L’azurde posts $4m profits in Q1 on strong sales

DUBAI: L’azurde Co. for Jewelry, which is known for its expensive items, is expecting the new affordable jewelry line to support sales this year as the company is looking into more innovative ways to stay ahead of the curve, according to its CEO.

The year 2022 started strong for the jewelry maker but the company is confronted with rising inflation and high material cost including gold on the back of the global geopolitical situation, Sélim Chidiac, CEO of the Saudi-listed L’azurde said in an exclusive interview with Arab News.

Chidiac pointed out that rising inflation along with robust gold prices has left the jewelry industry facing headwinds. He also detailed some of the measures taken by his company to combat high prices and stabilize customer footfall, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For the first time ever, we launched affordable gold jewelry at SR1,000 ($266). And we saw a great demand for this gold jewelry,” he said. This was reflected in the company’s performance in the following year.

“We see very high inflation in the Western world,” Chidiac told Arab News on the sidelines of the Top CEO Forum in Dubai. “The currencies in this part of the world (the Gulf) are pegged to the dollar. Central banks here will have to raise interest rates. How will inflation in the West impact our part of the world? We don’t know yet. So, there is this risk.”

In early Sunday trading, the stock price of the company was up 4.94 percent at SR17.04, ranking second among gainers after posting strong quarterly earnings.

Shares retreated a day later by 1.9 percent to trade at SR16.64 as of 2:19 p.m. Saudi time on Monday.

Q1 strong results

Saudi Lazurde Co. for Jewelry reported a 34 percent boost in net profit on the back of higher sales and revenues.

The jewelry producer, which is listed on the main index, generated a profit of SR13.7 million in the first quarter, up from SR10.2 million in the same period last year, it said in a bourse filing on Sunday.

The growth in net profit was primarily caused by an increase in sales and revenue for the quarter of 11 percent to stand at SR614.5 million.

The company also attributed the increase in profits to higher gross profits and lower financing costs.

2021 performance

Chidiac went on to speak about the “very strong” financial results for 2021, where the company achieved its lowest-ever working capital.

The jewelry producer made profits amounting to SR22 million last year as it recovered from a net loss of SR120 million a year earlier. Sales surged 54 percent to SR1.97 billion.

He added: “We’re investing in technology like 3D printing more than ever before, as automation helps reduce costs. The burden of inflation cannot be passed on to consumers. Consumers are now extremely sophisticated, with 80 percent of them doing research online before shopping in stores.”

Chidiac also pointed out that the pandemic helped his company to overcome supply chain challenges as the business began manufacturing some materials locally rather than importing them from China and Europe.

“Let’s do the maximum amount of manufacturing in local markets here. This is a major competitive advantage for us. So, for the rest of the year, we are cautiously optimistic. We have to work hard to continue delivering the results we have been delivering on a regular basis, from the first quarter of 2021 to today,” added Chidiac.


Madinah to have 12 electric charging stations to promote EVs

Madinah to have 12 electric charging stations to promote EVs
Updated 10 sec ago

Madinah to have 12 electric charging stations to promote EVs

Madinah to have 12 electric charging stations to promote EVs

RIYADH: The Madinah municipality has signed an agreement with Al-Sharif Holding Group to establish 12 electric charging stations in different parts of the city, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

It is part of the Kingdom’s efforts to achieve its zero-carbon goals.

The opening of these new electric charging stations is expected to increase the popularity of electric vehicles and will also support environmental sustainability programs. 

The agreement was signed between Fahd bin Muhammad Al-Balishi, mayor of the region and Ahmed Sindi, CEO of Sharif X Company for Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions. 

According to reports, these electric charging stations are expected to provide fast and medium charging devices, both AC and DC through power supply sockets with a power ranging from 22-200 kilowatts.

Recently, Kalyana Sivagnanam, group CEO of Petromin, during an exclusive interview with Arab News said that its electric charging station arm Electromin is planning to open new charging stations, in addition to the existing 100 to end Saudis’ reluctance to EVs. 


Commodities Update — Gold prices fall; Indonesia to raise palm oil export quota; Russia reduces grain export taxes

Commodities Update — Gold prices fall; Indonesia to raise palm oil export quota; Russia reduces grain export taxes
Updated 34 min 57 sec ago

Commodities Update — Gold prices fall; Indonesia to raise palm oil export quota; Russia reduces grain export taxes

Commodities Update — Gold prices fall; Indonesia to raise palm oil export quota; Russia reduces grain export taxes

RIYADH: Gold prices fell on Friday as a firm dollar and looming rate hikes soured appetite for the non-yielding asset, while India’s import tax hike on bullion also dampened its demand prospects.

Spot gold is currently priced at $1,811.43 per ounce, while US gold futures settled down at $1,801.50. 

Silver, Platinum fall

Spot silver is priced at $19.67 and has dropped about 6.5 percent this week, its biggest weekly fall since January 2022.

Spot platinum is priced at $892.73 per ounce, on course for its fourth consecutive weekly fall, while palladium is at $1,959.58, gaining about 4.5 percent this week.

Indonesia looks to raise palm oil export quota

Indonesia proposed raising palm oil export quotas on Friday and is considering increasing mandatory levels of biodiesel in fuel mixes to prop up prices for farmers when domestic palm oil inventories are high, a senior minister said on Saturday.

Palm oil inventories ballooned, and mills limited purchases of fresh fruit bunches from farmers after Jakarta stopped exports of crude palm oil and some other derivatives for three weeks to May 23 in a bid to contain soaring domestic cooking oil prices.

Indonesia replaced the ban with a domestic market obligation, requiring companies to supply a portion of their products to the domestic market through the government’s bulk cooking oil program and linked DMO volumes to companies’ export permits and quotas. 

DMO volumes as of the end of June were around 270,000 tons, the government said.

The government will now allow palm oil companies to export seven times the amount of their sales from currently five times, senior minister Luhut Pandjaitan said.

“I asked the Trade Ministry to increase the export multiplication factor to seven times starting July 1, with the main objective to increase farmer’s FFB prices significantly,” Luhut said in a statement.

Russia reduces grain export taxes to support exports

Sanctions-hit Russia has sharply reduced its grain export taxes after changing the formula it uses for calculating them to support shipments in the July-June marketing season, the agriculture ministry said on Friday.

Russian farmers are expected to harvest a massive wheat crop this summer, bringing a record exportable surplus in the 2022-2023 season. 

However, shipments are complicated by high export tax, a strong rouble and sanctions-inflated costs for freight and insurance.

The ministry said that the new base price for calculating the wheat export tax is set at 15,000 roubles ($283.68) per ton.

It was previously in US dollars at $200 a ton. The agriculture ministry used the base price and price indicators reported by traders to determine the level of tax weekly.

The wheat export tax is set at 4,600 roubles ($85.8) per ton from July 6-12 against $146.1 per ton from June 29 to July 5, the ministry said in a separate note.

President Vladimir Putin said this week that Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter and aims to remain so. Despite disrupting the Black Sea supply chains, it continues to supply its traditional markets in the Middle East and Africa.

(With inputs from Reuters)


Careem acquires money transfer technology platform Denarii

Careem acquires money transfer technology platform Denarii
Updated 03 July 2022

Careem acquires money transfer technology platform Denarii

Careem acquires money transfer technology platform Denarii

RIYADH: Careem, the ride-hailing and e-commerce platform, has acquired Denarii, a Dubai-based money transfer platform, in its second acquisition this month.

While the company has not disclosed the value of the deal, this acquisition will allow Careem to integrate Denarii’s technologies and assets into its platform.

Some key members of the Denarii team will also join Careem as part of the acquisition, MAGNiTT reported. 

Careem will use Denarii’s technology for its Careem Pay feature, to connect customers and Captains with remittance services provided by licensed providers. 

“Denarii’s innovative API will accelerate our journey to offering simple and affordable international remittance services, adding to the wide variety of services already available through Careem Pay,” Mudassir Sheikha, CEO and co-founder of Careem said. 


JPMorgan warns oil may hit $380 a barrel if Russia begins retaliatory production cuts

JPMorgan warns oil may hit $380 a barrel if Russia begins retaliatory production cuts
Updated 03 July 2022

JPMorgan warns oil may hit $380 a barrel if Russia begins retaliatory production cuts

JPMorgan warns oil may hit $380 a barrel if Russia begins retaliatory production cuts

RIYADH: Amid ongoing geopolitical tensions and skyrocketing energy rates, global oil prices may hit $380 a barrel if the US and European curbs compel Russia to inflict retaliatory crude output cuts, Bloomberg reported citing analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

It was after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that the Western allies led by the US imposed several sanctions, and worked out a complicated mechanism to cap the price fetched by Russian oil.

According to JPMorgan analysts including Natasha Kaneva, currently Russia enjoys a strong financial position and it can afford to slash daily crude production by 5 million barrels.

The analysts noted that Russia’s crude production cuts could be disastrous for the world, as a cut of 3 million barrels will elevate London crude prices to $190. In the worst-case scenario, if the output is cut by 5 million barrels, the price could reach as high as $380 a barrel.

“The most obvious and likely risk with a price cap is that Russia might choose retaliate by reducing exports as a way to inflict pain on the West,” wrote the analysts.


SABB appoints new CEO to lead corporate and institutional banking

SABB appoints new CEO to lead corporate and institutional banking
Updated 03 July 2022

SABB appoints new CEO to lead corporate and institutional banking

SABB appoints new CEO to lead corporate and institutional banking

RIYADH: The Saudi British Bank has appointed Yasser Ali Al-Barrak as its new CEO for corporate and institutional banking from this month.

The appointment of Al-Barrak will take effect on July 1, the bank said in a press statement.

Al-Barrak joined SABB in 2012 and has held many leadership positions, most recently being the general manager of global corporate and institutional banking, the statement said.

“The appointment of Yasser is a testament to the success of career growth plans at SABB, which is a major player in managing our most valuable assets, our people,” said SABB Managing Director & CEO Tony Cripps.

Established in 1978, SABB is an associate of the HSBC Group and a Saudi joint-stock company. It was named Saudi’s best bank for 2022, the statement added.

The bank provides retail, corporate, investment, private, and treasury services and has a paid-up capital of SR20.5 billion ($5.46 billion).