Samuels Jewelers is conducting “business as usual” despite reports of turmoil at owner Gitanjali Group, its CEO tells JCK.
“The main problem for us has been the bad publicity,” says CEO Farhad Wadia, who was in New York City to meet with the company’s vendors. “We have many vendors that are great partners and are standing by us in our hour of need.
“We are going to come out of this,” he continued. “This is a 125-year-old company that has been through many challenges. This is just one more bump in the road, and we believe we can surmount it.”
He notes his self-funded business has always had an “arm’s-length” relationship with its parent company Gitanjali and funds itself.
Industry sources say the company hopes to find a new owner down the road and hopes to convince Gitanjali’s creditors that they will be better off if the retail jewelry chain is sold for its enterprise value.
The renewed speculation around Samuels comes as Gitanjali Group and owner Mehul Choksi have been cited by Indian authorities for allegedly defrauding state-owned Punjab National Bank, in conjunction with Choksi’s nephew Nirav Modi. A Gitanjali filing said Choksi has been “falsely implicated.” Choksi’s current whereabouts are unknown.
Samuels Jewelers operates 108 jewelry stores in 22 states under the names Samuels Diamonds, Samuels Jewelers, Schubach Jewelers, Rogers Jewelers, and Andrews Jewelers.
Gitanjali Gems bought Samuels Jewelers, formerly known as Barry Jewelers, in 2006. Two years later it bought Rogers Jewelers. At one point it expressed interest in acquiring Zale, before that company was purchased by Signet.
This week, three companies owned by Modi’s Firestar International Ltd.—Firestar Diamond, A. Jaffe, and Fantasy Inc.—filed for Chapter 11 in the Southern District of New York. In legal papers filed on Feb. 28, the three companies said they hope to find an eventual buyer or investor.
(Photo courtesy of Samuels Jewelers)