— Our editor-in-chief caught up with the new CEO of La Montre Hermès just hours before this year’s GPHG to talk about the collaboration on the Share Replica Watches, the artistic crafts and his plans for the development of the brand.
Tell us more about your career at Hermès.
I arrived almost 20 years ago in the finance department, but I was asked to change after five years and found myself sitting at a loom and I started to discover textiles. I moved to Lyons where I worked at a company that supplied Hermès and other fashion houses with textiles. I also got to know people who were passionate about their job (which is much less common in finance!) and who arrived in the morning with pride in what they were going to produce during the day. I very much enjoyed this experience.
In 2007, the group bought at tannery for precious animal skins and we had to develop a whole network of farms and breeders to supply skins for the group and for other cheap replica watch UK brands. That also lasted for five years and after this I arrived at the very core of the brand, in leather goods. There I was responsible for developing and renewing the collections and promoting them, including selling them to stores. This is much the same as what is expected of me today working with another of the 14 crafts within the house of Hermès.
How have your first six months been?
Intense! I’m used to starting from scratch every five years and learning a completely new profession so I find that exciting from a personal point of view. There is a lot to learn, but the same basic principles apply throughout the group. Hermès wants to be an artisan of excellence and a creator.
Tell us more about your involvement with the Apple Watch project.
I was in the leather goods division so I was involved in this project. We had already developed products for Apple devices but in this case the group had the idea for this co-branding project, which was original for two brands that do not normally do co-branding. The fake watches for sale will be sold in what we call a “mirror distribution”, in other words in around 20 Hermès stores and 20 Apple Stores, generally in the same cities. In our Geneva store, for example, you will find Apple sales staff selling the watch, because it’s a different product to what we usually sell.
What direction will the watch collection take for Baselworld 2016?
We will try to talk about our collections rather than individual timepieces. We have a lot of projects in the pipeline for next year and the year after. There will be evolution in the Slim collection, as well as the Faubourg ladies’ collection. We will invest in the ladies’ collection, which has been neglected somewhat in recent years. After all, this is our main customer group. We will also work a lot on our stores, where we make three-quarters of our sales. There is some work to do, for example, on the way we serve our male customers in store.
Since you have worked directly in the artistic crafts, do you have any specific ideas for developing them in the Hermès watch collections?
We bring a unique creativity to the table because of the mixture of different crafts that we have in-house. We have seen St. Louis crystal used for a watch dial and I think if we can continue to derive pleasure from exploring these new avenues then we will do so. We are already thinking about it and, as you say, coming from these different crafts I can see the potential. Over the past 20 years, every three or four years some 20 people, usually the craftsmen and women but sometimes also the artistic directors, are sent abroad without any specific objective but with the aim of interacting with other craftsmen locally. Sometimes magical things can happen.
Do you have any specific objectives for the development of La Montre Hermès?
Above all we need to restore growth. I think this will easier to find in the ladies’ collections in the short term and we will move step-by-step with the gents’ collection. We have been growing this year as far as our own-store sales are concerned, but things are much more difficult in the quarter of sales that come from the retail network, where we have much less control.