The diamond grading and certification lab HRD Antwerp has appointed a new CEO, Ellen Joncheere. HRD Antwerp has been in the business of grading and certifying polished diamonds since 1973, delivering some 130,000 polished-diamond certificates annually. It also offers diamond-related training and education programs, in Belgium and internationally, as well as developing and marketing technological devices such as microscopes, detection and screening equipment.
The company has undergone significant restructuring in recent years to adapt to the changing market conditions, opening new labs in promising diamond markets such as Turkey, India, Dubai and Hong Kong. "HRD Antwerp has an excellent reputation internationally and its grading certificates are very highly regarded, meeting the highest standards," says Ari Epstein, CEO of HRD's parent enterprise the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC). "We needed to find an excellent new CEO to safeguard the future of HRD Antwerp, and are very pleased to have secured the services of Ellen Joncheere."
Ellen Joncheere for the past six years was the CEO of the Fremach International Group, a supplier to the automotive industry, and was formerly the CEO of Suez Bellux. Joncheere commented, “After six years I was ready for a new challenge. My experience in various industries, as well as helping to transform those companies to meet changing market conditions, will help me to enable HRD Antwerp to grow and strengthen its market position."
According to the Belgian newspaper De Tijd, HRD Antwerp lost 4.3 million euros (US$4.8m) in fiscal year 2018. Ten years ago, HRD graded about 10% of the world's polished diamonds, but the company has seen its market share diminish in recent years. With the appointment of a new CEO, discussions regarding the sale of the company have come to a halt, temporarily. Speaking to the Belgian newspaper, Joncheere addressed the issue of being new to the diamond industry: "I enjoy working for companies situated outside of my comfort zone. Furthermore, I have developed new strategies on several occasions for companies in markets undergoing transformation. I intend to do the same at HRD, which has had to face new competitors in recent years." Joncheere expects to stay at least three years to develop a new strategy for HRD.