One of the best ideas in Laura Trost's Lumen Vietnam Fund is Phu Nhuan Jewelry JSC (PNJ).

The firm is one of the leading manufacturers and retailers of jewellery in Vietnam, and offers a range of low-end to luxury jewels to suit every type of client. Trost explains that one of the company’s strongest assets is its experienced team of jewellery designers and 1,000 skilled goldsmiths.

‘PNJ is the only jewellery house in Vietnam with a manufacturing capacity of 4 million items per annum. The company is proud of its rich 29-year industry experience, with a professionally managed and well-respected brand image.’ Trost describes how the company exited all non-core investments in 2016 – a move which has helped to establish it as one of the top players in the Asian jewellery industry.

‘To increase its profitability, PNJ has curtailed its low gross margin gold bar trading activities (less than 2%) and concentrated more on its high gross  margin jewellery business (around 27%), which has generated 85% of the  total gross profits.’

She adds that between 2011 and 2015, sales from gold bar trading accounted for more than 50% of total revenues, but that this proportion has shrunk back to less than 20% since 2016.  The company has also co-operated with consultants from Italy and international jewellers in the US, including Zales and Tiffany & Co. Working with these firms has helped PNJ to improve its jewellery designs, craftsmanship, manufacturing capability and retail systems. ‘PNJ’s 2016 performance was outstanding, since its profit after tax advanced 529.4% year-on-year,’ Trost says.

Not only has PNJ delivered good financial results, but it also scores highly on sustainability, with its strategy based on the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals, Trost notes.  

The firm’s sustainability strategy is built on five pillars. The first two are economic growth – achieved by full concentration on its core jewellery business – and social development, including proper training for employees. The third pillar is environmental protection, including environmentally-friendly processing of toxic waste and the promotion of energy efficiency practices. Next comes the development of the labour force, through the promotion of a safe and unprejudiced working atmosphere in an attempt to attract and nurture talents. Lastly, the firm focuses on community building, and funds a number of different community projects.

This ethical approach extends beyond the firm too. ‘PNJ has firm policies to ensure that its precious stone purchases are from legitimate sources, rather than from conflict zones with questionable origins,’ Trost says. ‘The company has also reduced its raw material waste to under the industry standard of 1%.’

This article was originally published in the September issue of the Citywire Switzerland magazine. Click here for the full magazine.