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India's Titan sees jewellery sales rising more than 25% in 2017/18 - CFO

[MUMBAI] India's biggest-listed jeweller Titan Co expects jewellery sales to leap more than a quarter this fiscal year as tighter rules on cash flows and a new sales tax hurt the mom-and-pop firms that dominate the business, a senior company official told Reuters.

Both "demonetisation" - removing higher currency bills from circulation - and a new national goods and services tax (GST) are expected to have a marked impact on the gold jewellery industry in India, the world's second-biggest consumer of the precious metal.

Family firms control nearly 70 per cent of the US$30 billion gold jewellery trade, but many cash transactions are believed to take place outside the taxman's purview. Greater transparency in the economy and higher tax receipts are key policy goals for India's government.

"Events like demonetisation and implementation of the Goods and Services Tax are helping us to increase market share as the industry is getting organised," said Subbu Subramaniam, Chief Financial Officer of Titan, predicting sales growth of more than 25 per cent in the 12 months through March.

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Titan last week reported a 71 per cent surge in net profit in the July-September quarter. In the first half of 2017/18, the company's jewellery sale surged 47 per cent to 61 billion rupees (S$1.28 billion), the company said in a statement last week.

The company's shares surged 19 per cent on Monday after touching a record high of 824.65 rupees. They have more than doubled this year up to Monday's close.

India this year set the GST sales tax on jewellery at 3 per cent - a level industry players said was low enough to avoid curbing sales while at the same time steering customers to larger players abiding by tax laws and away from cash deals of questionable legal status.

Mr Subramaniam said Titan plans to open 15 jewellery stores in the second half of the fiscal year, on top of its existing 268 stores, to extend its geographical reach.

Reflecting Titan's growth prospects, Deutsche Bank on Monday raised the jewellery retailer's price target to 900 rupees from 625 rupees, and forecast company's earnings will double by 2018/19 from last year's base.

REUTERS

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