Our Story

How the story of PONCINI

WAS WRITTEN

In less than a century, the Poncini family has created and developed an important business in Mauritius and made a name for itself that constitutes today a major reference in terms of luxury products. This family has played a key part in the industrial development of the country over four generations, while keeping one of the main Poncini shops, dedicated to luxury products, still active.

1860

Establishment
The Guillemin group decided to open a trading post in Mauritius. They established their branch in Port-Louis, in the now famous stone and wooden building with roof shingles that is right opposite the theatre. After selling a bit of everything for a while, they started to specialise in the sales of luxury products.

Guillemin imported diamonds, jewellery, high-end watches, but also fine tableware, sculptures and paintings. Trading luxury products became so successful that Guillemin had its own shop built in the famous arcades of Curepipe in 1912, i.e. the very first high class commercial centre in Mauritius. At the same time, Guillemin recruited a Swiss watchmaker in order to be able to repair and look after its luxury watches, including the famous OMEGA watch

1925

The advert
An advert was published in the Swiss newspapers. Application forms were processed by the OMEGA firm and they ended up choosing Alfred Poncini, a Swiss citizen of Italian descent, born to a family of fine watchmakers based in Lausanne. The chosen watchmaker did however present a major drawback: he only spoke Italian Having learnt French, he also went on to become the Swiss consulate’s representative in Mauritius. He married Myriam Hily who bore him two children, José and Aldo.

Mauritius was still reaping the benefits of the global sugar boom, which meant juicy business for the Guillemin enterprise. Alfred Poncini decided to send his eldest son José to pursue business studies in Switzerland. Unable to move because of the ongoing war, the young student would use this as an opportunity to train as a watchmaker under one of his uncles’ supervision
Alfred Poncini

1940

The Takeover
But the euphoric “twenties” was followed by an economic crisis and the house of Guillemin went bankrupt. Alfred Poncini, the watch-making division manager, and Roger Mathieu, the optical division manager, then decided to take over and buy out the business together, so that the new outlet became known as Mathieu & Poncini.

The new owners continued the established association with the various dealerships involved in watch-making, jewellery, tableware and the Guerlain and Jean Patou perfumes

They did whatever needed to be done to keep their commercial activities going during the war. However, despite their efforts to keep up with the image that the famous shop thrived to convey, they ended up having to sell pretty much anything and everything that could be sold

1950

A new name
José Poncini returned home with bundles of certificates and new ideas, while his brother Aldo was about to leave to pursue his studies in France. José then bought out Mathieu’s share, and the company’s name changed yet again to become Poncini & Sons

1960

New ideas
Poncini & Sons also provided consulting services to a Swiss engineering firm that was responsible for installing electrical engines at the St Louis power station. Furthermore, the firm pursued its growth by launching a chemical division that would produce detergents under the brand name Cernol
José Poncini
With a flair that would made him known as “the pioneer of industrial development”, José Poncini established business relationships with Swiss partners in order to launch Micro Jewels on the one hand, while investing in the diamond cutting and polishing company LSP on the other, with Clément and Daniel Lagesse alongside Ian Sussens, a South- African, as partners. The entire production was destined for exportation. Micro Jewels would be the first nonagricultural product to be produced in the history of Mauritian Business. The establishment of this production unit allowed the Mauritian authorities to set up « development certificates » that would go on to become the foundation of the industrial free zone. Other manufacturers, and particularly those producing textiles, would also follow this trend and establish themselves within this framework.
Aldo Poncini
Poncini & Sons also provided consulting services to a Swiss engineering firm that was responsible for installing electrical engines at the St Louis power station. Furthermore, the firm pursued its growth by launching a chemical division that would produce detergents under the brand name Cernol

1970

Jewellery and luxury focus
While the industrial and chemical activities were providing the company’s main source of income throughout the seventies, its name again changed to Poncini Ltd in 1975. Sometime later, the company realised that Micro Jewels and the diamond cutting operations were proving too costly and that it was better to sell up in order to refocus on the jewellery and luxury products activities. The chemical division would also end up being sold in 2005.

Poncini Ltd then began to concentrate on exporting its manufactured products to the French luxury market. Throughout its development, the ‘maison Poncini’ (the house of Poncini) will have successfully maintained its distinctive trademark - that of a specialist in luxury products - by financing it through industrial activities

1988

Re-orientation
The re-orientation of the company’s activities towards jewellery and luxury products dates to 1988, when the then minister of finance abolished all taxes on raw materials needed for jewellery manufacturing. PONCINI turned the trade in luxury products into one of its main commercial activity.

PONCINI introduced the « downtown duty-free shopping » concept, increased the number of high brands available in Mauritius, launched new shops in several luxury hotels and developed their jewellery workshop.

Following on the footsteps of José and Aldo PONCINI, the management of their family business was handed over to Christian. With him as director, PONCINI pushed its development further by modernising its activities, first with new IT systems, including 3D printing and designing, manufacturing, by acquiring new technologies in metallurgy and casting. Stone setting is done by microscope assistance. Attention was focused on export of high end hand made products
Christian Poncini

2023

Jewellery and luxury focus
The introduction of the Duty Deferred Tax Scheme (DDTS) shops downtown was a novelty as other Duty free shops were mostly at the airport and in special factory shops. PONCINI pioneered the project with its Caudan Waterfront shop. In 1991, PONCINI acquired a 50% stake in Parure Ltee from Beachcomber and established a partnership with them to run DDTS shops inside their hotels.

Today PONCINI has taken a majority share and runs Parure Boutiques at Paradis Hotel golf & spa and Trou aux biches resorts. Along the line P O N C I N I attracted many international high level watch brands and increased its portfolio of representation.

Since 2012, the 4th generation management team of Poncini, Fabio & Jérôme have added new ideas and energy. Following the accidental passing away of Fabio in 2019, PONCINI had to reorganise its managerial team and set up a new strategy for the future. The fire outbreak in the Caudan Waterfront complex just after Covid restrictions was an additional challenge.

Our shop was refurbished with a new visual identity, and its size increased. This was also followed by the refurbishment of the hotel shops in line with current luxury design trends. The group has come out stronger and more engaged than ever before in its mission to be the best luxury retailer in Mauritius. It’s strength today is its management team, a team of young men and women united and committed to outstanding service. Organize more events, raise awareness of the brands, increase partnerships in Mauritius and abroad is the priority.

PONCINI is the editor of the EXCEPTION Magazine, a publication exclusive to the Group and close partners. This magazine showcases the commitment and attachment of not only PONCINI to excellence but also brings to light the talents of many Mauritians in various fields.
Fabio Poncini
Jérôme Poncini
PONCINI Shops

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2, Jules Koenig Street
Port Louis, Mauritius

Tel: (+230) 212 0818
Fax: (+230) 208 8850

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