De Beers sees tough outlook as critical holiday sales approach

Wed Sep 14, 2016 8:58pm EDT
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By Farah Master and Donny Kwok

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Anglo American owned De Beers, one of the world's largest diamond producers, expects some growth in the consumer market next year but its chief executive warned the overall sales environment is likely to remain tough

Bruce Cleaver, who was appointed to head De Beers in May, said prices had stabilized for rough diamonds, while the polished diamond market looked set to be flat

"We think there will be some growth in the consumer market next year, but probably not hugely significant given some of the economic factors and political factors in the world," said Cleaver.

De Beers is heading into the important holiday sales period for diamond jewelry including the Diwali festival in India, Christmas and then Chinese New Year.

Anglo American, which has an 85 percent stake in De Beers, has set diamonds, precious metals and copper at the core of its restructured portfolio as it seeks to recover from a commodities rout.

De Beers has been hit by waning demand and slumping prices after global demand for diamond jewelry hit a high of $81 billion in 2014 and production soared, leaving the market flooded by 2015.

"The diamond market is in much better balance than a year ago," said Cleaver, who was in Hong Kong to launch the De Beers 2016 Diamond Insight Report which focuses on demand from customers in the millennial generation, aged roughly 18-34.

The diamond market in China has been unwinding extensive inventories built up last year.   Continued...

Bruce Cleaver, CEO of De Beers, poses in Hong Kong, China September 14, 2016. Picture taken September 14, 2016.      REUTERS/Bobby Yip