Graff outlines plans for IPO in Hong Kong

 
City A.M. Reporter
LONDON-based jeweller Graff hopes a planned Hong Kong IPO will bolster its position in a fast-changing diamond industry and give it financial clout to expand into Asian and other major cities, its 73-year-old founder and chairman said yesterday.

The privately-held diamond and precious gems firm founded by Laurence Graff (pictured) in 1960 has found it tough to compete with large, well funded brands on a global scale to secure coveted retail locations due to their ample cash flows and business support.

Graff, known for its giant gems and rare diamonds, has a solid client base worldwide, but wants extra capital to open stores in prized locations and build up its inventory base to keep up with a growing pool of customers, particularly in Asia.

The company’s stock listing, set for next year, is expected to raise $1bn (£639m), according to banking sources. “Unless you are a certain size you haven’t got a chance,” Graff said yesterday.

“Competition, in time, is going to be less and less because you have to be a giant in the industry to support the stocks that you have, support these high rentals, support new design, new effort and to be able to experiment in new countries,” he said.

A Hong Kong initial public offering would help put Graff closer to its fastest growing market, China, and develop elsewhere in Asia.

The jewellery company’s sales are currently split equally between the United States, Europe and Asia.