DE BEERS CEO, Bruce Cleaver, said he was “very proud” of the diamond firm’s achievements despite reporting 50% lower profits of $558m for the 2019 financial year – a hefty decline from its 10-year profit peak of $1.8bn in 2014.
According to Bloomberg News, the 2019 showing was De Beers’ worst since it brought the curtain down on its monopoly in the early 2000s. The newswire reported Cleaver as saying: “I’m actually very proud about what De Beers did in 2019”.
“It was not an easy year. We led an industry. We spent a lot of time speaking to customers, to bankers and to retailers to give them confidence that De Beers thinks there’s a great future here.”
Mark Cutifani, CEO of Anglo American which owns 85% of De Beers, said there were the beginnings of some “pull through” on demand in 2020 although the market recovery might be delayed whilst the COVID-19 phenomena played out.
“The diamond market has a number of issues that have been difficult: liquidity in India, and trade wars. But we have seen cycles before,” said Cutifani. “We have to improve our marketing and we will do that. We don’t see it as too big of a step out.”
De Beers is thought to be considering changing the way it sells rough diamonds to the so-called ‘midstream’ – cutters and polishers of rough diamonds – but Cutifani declined to give details regarding proposed changes.
“The mid-stream will have to get smarter. We don’t think that the midstream can duck changes. But we will continue to stay close to our customers. All of us have to continue to modernise,” he said.