February 5, 2004
DTC 2003 Sales Up 7%
De Beers announced Diamond Trading Co. sales were $5.52 billion, a 7% increase over 2002. DTC raised its rough prices three times during 2003 and by year-end its prices were, on average, about 10% higher than at the beginning of the year.
The group said preliminary projections indicate global retail sales of diamond jewelry were up 6% in U.S. dollars in 2003 over 2002. It said the U.S. was particularly strong, as were India, China and the United Kingdom. Japan also recorded growth for the first time in a number of years. The company said in a statement it hoped the strong demand would help clear out excess diamond stocks in the pipeline to help reduce debt levels in diamond cutting centers.
De Beers directors say they are optimistic about 2004 as a good year for the diamond industry and that the Supplier of Choice strategy to drive demand for diamond jewelry is working.
The group also announced Jonathan Oppenheimer will become managing director of De Beers on July 1, with Gareth Penny as managing director of DTC. They succeed Gary Ralfe, who will remain managing director of the De Beers Group of Companies. Oppenheimer and Penny will report to Ralfe.
In related news, Ralfe said at a press conference the group was hoping to finalize its agreement with Russian diamond supplier Alrosa and resolve other legal issues, such as complaints filed against them by former clients and other suits brought against them in the U.S. He also said progress in the group's Canadian mining ventures was going slowly, but that construction at Snap Lake and Victoria should begin in 2005. The group remains disappointed also by its inability to re-enter the mining trade in Angola, despite its best efforts.
by Peggy Jo Donahue