About Mr Mini

Founder & CEO of The Luxury Lifestyle Company International, a luxury goods and lifestyle services group based in Johannesburg, South Africa.


This month marks the release of the tome ‘Independent Luxury’, examining the expansion of conglomerates and extinction of independent companies. Here, its joint authors exclusively reveal a first look their four innovation strategies to endure in the consolidation jungle.

The world of luxury is harboring an endangered species: that of the independent companies! In an increasingly challenging and globalized luxury environment, companies are fighting to escape from the ever-growing clout of luxury “conglomerates” – Swatch Group, LVMH, Kering and Richemont.

As of 2015, these “big four” own more than 100 brands and are maintaining a constant pace of acquisitions, relying on vertical integration to secure supplies (and deprive competitors of them), which has particularly damaging consequences for independents. Most independents are struggling to survive and end up being acquired or going out of business.

Interestingly, this same movement toward consolidation is rendering brands more and more uniform, thus creating opportunities for players able to craft unique offerings for niche luxury clientele.

We have toured the world in the past decade to uncover the strategies followed by groundbreakers in fashion, watchmaking, leather goods, accessories, cars, gastronomy, design and retail. The results are presented in the book “Independent Luxury: The Four Innovation Strategies To Endure In The Consolidation Jungle” (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2015).

Innovation is the path to follow in this challenging journey and the companies studied have chosen one of the four innovation strategies below in their development.

Game changers are building breakthrough innovations at the product and business model levels.

Innovation Strategies For Luxury Independents

“Back to the roots” includes independent companies innovating in the essence of luxury: extreme quality and extraordinary craftsmanship to create the ultimate sensorial and emotional experience. For companies such as Vignes, Sheme, Thomas Mercer, Mirazur by Mauro Colagreco, Norlha and Brunello Cucinelli, luxury is rooted in a terroir and a sense of purpose permeates this endeavor. These are companies symbolized by the horse, a classical symbol of elegance and nobility.

“Code breakers” are playing with product and societal codes to culturally innovate and build the icons of today and tomorrow. Examples include Isabel Marant and Miuccia Prada in fashion, Fernando and Humberto Campana in furniture design, and HYT in watchmaking. The tiger – with its strength – symbolizes these luxury iconoclasts.


“Eagle in the aquarium” companies are disrupting the way that luxury companies create, deliver and capture value. Globalization and digitization are powerful enablers to reconfigure resources at the levels of funding (e.g. crowdfunding), design (e.g. Dassault Systèmes Fashion Lab), manufacturing (e.g. 3D printing), distribution (e.g. Yoox – Net-à-Porter), marketing and communication (e.g. Holition and Digital Luxury Group). The eagle in the aquarium symbolizes these invaders in the luxury ecosystem.

“Game changers” are building breakthrough innovations at the product and business model levels. Comme des Garçons, Études Studio, Iris van Herpen, MB&F, and W Motors are independents taking bold initiatives in a fascinating and inspiring journey. The complex and powerful dragon symbolizes this group.

Disregarding the rather hostile economic landscape, a new brand decided to enter the automotive sector.

CASE STUDY: A “Hypercar” Game Changer From Dubai: W Motors

In 2012, disregarding the rather hostile economic landscape, a new brand decided to enter the automotive sector. A high-end brand that started with a dream and the unshakeable conviction that there is always room in the market – even a saturated market – for an ultra-exclusive and totally incomparable product: a product for which innovation is not a concept, but an essential element.

This brand is W Motors (W standing for “WOLF”), which manufactures “hypercars” selling at US$ 3.4 million each. Its creator and CEO, Ralph R. Debbas, brought together the most specialist engineers (such as Magna Steyr), the most experienced consultants (Studio Torino), the most advanced mechanics (RUFAutomobile) and lend their skills to the most daring, or, as some say, the most foolish, project.

The first W Motors HyperSport is the Lykan, taking its name from the werewolf, this half man, half wolf creature that is exceptionally strong and practically uncontrollable.

W Motors Lykan HyperSport car (courtesy of W Motors)

Like a hand-made watch movement, the Lykan HyperSport, limited to seven units for the first model, receives the same painstaking attention. The carbon-fiber body is hand-built, layer-by-layer, in Italy. Its hand-built engine is assembled piece by piece in Germany. With its 770HP twin-turbo flat six-cylinder engine, the W Motor HyperSport offers a stunning performance – 0 to 100 km/h in less than 2.8 seconds and can reach top speeds of 385 km/h with maximum torque of 980nm, making this beast one of the fastest and most powerful in the world. It is also the most technologically advanced hypercar in its category.

In 2016 two new models are scheduled to be launched:

– The Sedan model with a production of 100 vehicles per year retailing at around US$200,000.
– The SuperSport model with a production of 25 vehicles per year retailing at a price half-way between that of the Sedan and the Lykan: US$1.4 million.

Its next project is to develop a world-class automotive research and development platform in Dubai. In the spirit of the impressive investments being undertaken for the Expo 2020, W Motors aims to play a pivotal role in the emergence of R&D and innovation Made in Dubai.

This would take the form of a start-up accelerator to bring together talents in the automotive business where W Motors, alongside a group of public and private investors, would take a role of innovation facilitator, potential client and investor. If this project takes off, it would represent real business model innovation in a highly concentrated and mature sector like the automotive industry. Hard to believe, maybe, but no harder than the creation of W Motors in the first place…

How to innovate? A thorough analysis of these four innovation strategies uncovers a common pattern composed of five stages: the BA2RE® luxury strategy approach.

This is a world where storytelling, distribution choices and experience take centre stage.

The BA2RE® Luxury Strategy Approach

It all starts with the creator/ entrepreneur worldview and purpose. Believing refers to the vision, the identity, the DNA of the company, its guiding values and aesthetics. This belief can evolve in the same way that living organisms evolve, but it has a certain stability. It is what enables energy and resources to be focused. 
Innovative creators and entrepreneurs are constantly anticipating to grasp changes and act on them. They sense l’air du temps and are often the “right person, in the right place at the right time.”

They combine analysis and feelings to draw forth intuition on what is next, often reaching out to a certain number of stakeholders such as artists, designers, cultural organizations and media experts that can nourish them and later on help to legitimize a breakthrough proposal.


Acting refers to crafting the offer for a certain group of clients. It is a world of strategic choices: What is the offer? Who are the clients? What are the resources, capabilities and processes necessary to construct, deliver and capture value?

Then comes the central moment of the encounter with the client. Reaching refers not only to winning clients, but transforming them into fans and advocates for the brand. How to reach first the hearts and then the minds of clients? The goal is to have a core of top influencers and clients to espouse the offer (and the message). This is a world where storytelling, distribution choices and experience take centre stage.

Enduring is the capacity to be more than a one-time hit or fad company. It is a process to develop the company in its growth stages demanding a long-term view and solid financial backing. At the personal level it demands stamina, resilience and the capacity to generate luck.

We present in the book final chapter how this strategic approach has been applied to the development of Encelade 1789, a Swiss brand dedicated to exclusive accessories.

*Main Image Credit: Hermes SS14 Campaign. Hermes is in no way mentioned in the book ‘Independent Luxury’.

Joint authors Jonas Hoffmann and Laurent Lecamp.

Independent Luxury launched worldwide in August 2015. To further investigate the book visit:www.theindependentluxury.com

Dr Jonas Hoffmann is Professor of Luxury Strategy atSKEMA Business School and co-founder of TILAssociates. An expert in innovation and emerging markets, he consults and gives executive training in Europe, the United States, China, and the Middle East. He is a regular keynote speaker at international luxury summits and Independent Luxury is his sixth book.

Laurent Lecamp is currently Executive Vice President Sales at Carl F. Bucherer. He has co-founded successful luxury companies in the watchmaking/accessories industry which have received awards for creativity, design and innovation. He was one of the very youngest CEOs in the Swiss watchmaking industry with the Cyrus brand. He is an influential advocate for independent luxury players and a speaker at international conferences.

Continue reading



The luxury hotel space is competitive but players are stepping up to the plate to keep up with rapidly evolving consumer demands. Here we investigate some on the cutting edge and what’s ahead.

Last month, in conversation with Robert Cheng, Group VP Marketing of the prestigious Peninsula Hotels Group, despite the plethora of exciting initiatives in the pipeline for the company, we found ourselves continuously drawn back to a particularly prevalent discussion on technology, innovation and their place in the luxury hotel space.

Keeping the balance between innovation, customisation and still maintaining that personal touch – which so often sets high-end hotels apart from the rest – is always top of mind, according to Cheng, and the risk of taking technology too far is always present.

Nevertheless, the increasing use of technology across the board in the luxury hotel space is a trend which is impossible to ignore – and the appetite for futuristic additions to the luxury hotel experience is palpable, particularly from the lucrative millennial set.

As Jérôme Destors, Director of Hotel IT at technology firm Amadeus, stated in its report ‘Hotels 2020 – Beyond Segmentation’: “Unique, connected, informed are just three watchwords that define the hotel guest, both today and in the future.”

Hence, understanding a customer is a strategic imperative for hotels in today’s world. We are operating in an era of unprecedented change. Brands that don’t recognise and respond to this run the risk of falling behind the competition permanently.”

So the question today is two-fold – how are luxury hotel providers currently innovating and what can be learnt from their pioneering advances and; what does the future hold for the hospitality space?

“Brands that don’t recognise and respond run the risk of falling behind the competition permanently.”

Two Heads Are Better Than One

First and foremost, when we hear ‘future’, often we think digital, smartphones, space travel. But innovation can also be more than just technology on its own.
Cutting-edge concepts that challenge the norm and offer new, exciting and exclusive options for the luxury consumer are often borne from forging inventive partnerships with like-minded entities and breaking new ground.
The Peninsula Hotels Group, for its part, has “never been afraid of technology” says Cheng, and has employed a dedicated research & development team for 30 over years to constantly scan innovations occurring across the globe and trial and adapt viable technology and concepts to suit the group’s properties.
But a perfect example of the aforementioned balance between technology and a personal touch materialised when the group established an innovative and exclusive partnership with online luxury fashion retailer and publisher NET-A-PORTER.com earlier this year.

The tie-up saw the two collaborate to create a series of stylish mini guides to the world’s most dynamic gateway cities.

The exclusive style savvy bite-sized guides were published on the respective hotel’s section of The Peninsula website (peninsula.com), and featured in the travel section of NET-A-PORTER.com’s fashionable The Edit magazine (net-a-porter.com/peninsula) during the week of launch.

According to Cheng, the duo will reunite again shortly to publish the next five in the series during New York Fashion Week in the Fall. But, as he hinted last month: “There’s more to come there, so stay tuned!”

“These meetings of innovative minds have since resulted in a range of out-of-the-box tie-ups.”

The Marriott Group is also pushing ahead, with research emanating from its 10,000-square-foot Innovation Lab and an Innovation Team, which is continuously brainstorming about what the hotel of the future will entail.

These meetings of innovative minds have since resulted in a range of out-of-the-box tie-ups such as a recent expansion of its partnership with TripAdvisor to add Marriott’s global hotel portfolio to the TripAdvisor Instant Booking platform from this summer, capitalising on the increasing shift in consumer behavior to trust recommendations from fellow guests over straight advertising.

Marriott and Netflix also officially announced a deal last month, which will allow guests to log in or subscribe to the streaming service via Internet-connected guest room TVs across several Marriott properties.

“Our collaboration with Netflix responds to changing consumer preferences in the way our guests access and watch content, while recognizing the leading role Netflix is playing in driving this transformation,” Matthew Carroll, Marriott’s VP of brand management, said in a statement.

Back To The Future

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has, similarly, joined the ranks with the launch of its own high-tech design lab – Starlab – at its headquarters in Stamford, CT earlier this year.

The company has gone on to become the first to offer keyless hotel room entry, allowing guests to check in via their iPhones (or Apple Watch), and the group began trialing a robotic bellhop , dubbed Botlr, across its Aloft hotels in Cupertino and Silicon Valley in August last year.

Botlr, a three-foot high robot in the vein of R2-D2, allows guests to send request items – ranging from toothbrushes, smartphone chargers, magazines, newspapers and even snacks – from their smartphones, which can then be delivered by Botlr within two to three minutes.

When the robot reaches the guest’s door, the system calls the room, alerting the guest to the delivery.

Starwood’s robot butler, Botlr

Starwood is also in the midst of a roll-out for its smart-mirror concept, which offers guests immediate access to the weather, news and sports scores with a touch of the mirror’s surface.

A Bluetooth connection can also be accessed to link the guest’s phone so they can see their Twitter feed and other alerts directly on the mirror, which is powered by Panasonic technology.

No doubt the Starlab innovation team has also had plenty to do with Starwood’s recent interest in the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset – bought last year by Facebook for $2bn – which Starwood reportedly aims to roll out to its Element gyms progressively in the near future.

“Gesture interfaces and 3D mobile phone displays could be common by 2020.”

The Amadeus report confirms that while technologies such as augmented reality and mind control headsets are already with us and are set to spread, “developments such as gesture interfaces and 3D mobile phone displays could also be common by 2020”.

Gesture interfaces for one, have the potential to drastically change how we view and interact with information and although the technology does exist – gestural interfaces have been developed by firms including Microsoft’s Kinect and Oblong Industries – this is still largely undiscovered territory for the hospitality industry.

Facial recognition though, is in the early stages of roll-out across the hospitality industry, with Universal Studios Japan one of the first hotels to make use of the technology in partnership with NEC via its NeoFace® Watch solution.
NEC NeoFace® Watch

NeoFace Watch uses cameras installed in and around the hotel to recognize the faces of guests, check registered guest information, identify VIPs and undesirable guests, and alert the hotel staff.

Alerting staff to the arrival of a VIP (via mobile or otherwise), before they check in allows the hotel staff to implement smoother and more appropriate check-in procedures, according to the firm.

The recognition takes less than a second and it can be integrated with the hotel’s loyalty and customer relationship management system so that customers can begin to be catered to in a tailored fashion as soon as they step through the door.

However, it is essentially an opt-in program and guests decide whether if they want to be part of the hotel’s database.

“Some 500,000 guests have been enrolled in the Universal program since June 2014.”

“Ultimately, we’re not selling facial recognition, we’re selling enhanced customer experience that’s enable by face recognition,” explained Allen Ganz, senior account development for the biometric division at NEC North America when queried.

Indeed, according to reports, the customer response has been positive to date and some 500,000 guests have been enrolled in the Universal program since June 2014 with the numbers growing steadily.

Mobile Aspirations

While there are many opportunities available for further evolution, mobile is one area where luxury hotels have excelled of late.

Marriott International introduced a new feature to their mobile app this month with Mobile Request, which operates by offering guests a chat function to make real-time requests at individual hotels and to have immediate responses and interaction.

Additionally, a drop-down menu also allows guests to request services and amenities, such as extra towels and pillows.

Inititally available to 46 hotels worldwide, the new feature will eventually be rolled out to all Marriott hotels this summer and will be available to the 50 million members of Marriott Rewards, the company’s loyalty program.

Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites in the UAE, Amman Marriott Hotel in Jordan and Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino in Egypt were some of the first hotels to get the app.

Following in the footsteps of Ritz-Carlton, Starwood, and Marriott, The Four Seasons also just released a new mobile app, a multi-functional global app which acts as a ‘do-everything concierge’, catering to guests’ every whim – from checking in and out, to ordering room service, housekeeping and laundry, to requesting a car from the valet.

Guests can also book luggage pickup and airport transfers or use the content-rich application to peruse local recommendations on individual destinations, curated to their ‘moods’.

Unlike other hotels, The Four Seasons has also set itself apart by not only offering the app across its 94 properties across 39 countries, but also making it available to all users, not just those in the loyalty program.

The luxury chain also plans to release a Simplified Chinese version of the application next month (August 2015), and a special version tailored to the preferences of Chinese travellers will reportedly be issued by the end of the year.

Four Seasons also has plans to provide the app in additional languages down the road, starting with Arabic.
However, it’s interesting to note that Cheng reveals that the Peninsula Hotels Group opted out of the app race – on purpose – to cater to its niche customers’ preferences.

“On purpose – we did not do a native app,” he says. “Because we felt that we wanted to make sure that we were at the guests’ disposal in terms of them being able to get access from their mobile device, but our guests didn’t want extra real estate on their phones dedicated to a Peninsula App, so we did the next best thing and gave them a mobile-optimised site.”

“On purpose – we did not do a native app.”

Switching Off
On this note, it’s clear that while looking to the future is essential – listening to the customer is paramount. Not all customers check into a luxury hotel to be catered to by technology and stimulated by curated content and box-breaking collaborations. Some of them may just want to switch off.

As Jonathan Ford, Founding Creative Partner at Pearlfisher recently pointed out – a survey by BCG claims that 51 per cent of US luxury consumers are now looking for ‘these enriched experiences’ over product, and a new and growing experiential luxury movement is tapping into this.

“Consumers are seeking new ways to take time out, slow down, contemplate and appreciate,” he says.

So, while some hotels are speeding ahead into the future, other luxury operators are experimenting with the opposite and leaning towards a more traditional, yet inspired, offering by allowing guests to truly power off and enjoy the serenity.
Villa Stéphanie (Above & Main Image)

German luxury resort Villa Stephanie is one such operator which offers its guests the option to activate an an Internet kill switch in each guest room – marking one of the first times a hotel has offered such a ‘digital detox’.
Check into the Villa and the flick of a switch activates a Wi-Fi grid blocker, which will actively block approximately 96 percent of Wi-Fi signals, and limit texts and tweets.

Eco-hotel, The Adrère Amellal, near Siwa in Egypt has gone a step further and actually banned mobiles from public areas of its premises to ensure that its up-market hotel guests – which have included Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall – are not bothered by ringers, texts or loud phone conversations while on vacation.

The resort – which also has no electricity – only allows mobiles inside the bedrooms, and is made entirely from traditional materials such as salt-rock and palm leaves, relying entirely on torches, beeswax candles and stars to illuminate its 40-rooms, which reportedly start at £460-a-night.
  The Adrère Amellal in Egypt

While these customisations may not be the initial images that spring to mind at the sound of the word ‘future’ – it’s far from a long shot to imagine that in years to come, luxury hotels may choose to go down one of two paths – one, leveraging innovative partnerships and technology to trail-blaze modernity, or the other – to offer their guests an opulent and organic respite from a world which is increasingly connected and buzzing around the clock.

One thing, however, is for certain. Wherever luxury hotels choose to innovate next – it will be exciting, because a segmentation is in process – and, as the Amadeus report suggests – it’s all based on personalisation, where the guest is given choice over almost every aspect of their hotel experience.

(C) Luxury Society, by Daniela Aroche, 08 July 2015.

Live the life!


Luxury Society presents eight key trends that helped to define the luxury industry in 2012…

India added a local sourcing clause to FDI, making it difficult for luxury brands to enter the local market. China overtook the United States as the world’s biggest consumer nation of luxury goods. Luxury goods brands led a mass exodus from Argentinian retail.

European luxury brands were snapped up by wealthy investors in Asia and the Middle East. Fast running out of brands to acquire, luxury conglomerates intensified acquisition of suppliers.

Luxury fashion houses made a serious foray into fine jewellery and timepiece categories. Luxury conglomerates went to court for counterfeit, copyright and everything in between. And continued to look for heritage brands of the past to bring them growth in the future.


Challenges Remain in India

In November 2011, we reported that India’s union cabinet had agreed to allow 51% foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand and 100% FDI in mono-brand retail. Meaning that luxury brands, for the first time in the country’s history, were able to open their own directly controlled stores, without the aid of a local distributor.

Bowing to political pressure, the government amended this ruling in April 2012, when a local sourcing clause was added. In respect of proposals involving FDI beyond 51%, this meant mandatory sourcing of at least 30% of the value of products sold, from Indian small industries, artisans & craftsmen. Which in many cases halted the further development of an Indian retail network for luxury brands.
Further Reading: Challenges Remain for Luxury Brands in India


China, It’s Official

In December 2012 Bain & Co. reported that Chinese consumers have overtaken U.S. shoppers to become the world’s biggest buyers of luxury goods. The Chinese now account for 25% of global sales through purchases at home and overseas according to the consultancy firm, as U.S. consumers account for one-fifth of the world’s luxury sales.

China’s domestic luxury sales, estimated to be worth 106 billion yuan ($17 billion) in 2011, are expected to grow 7% this year – a marked slowdown from 30% growth in 2011. In 2012 it also became clear that more and more Mainland Chinese tourists are shopping in cities like London, New York and Paris, where they can save as much as 40% on luxury goods because of the weaker euro and on differences in tax or duties.
Further Reading: Attracting and Serving China’s Global Luxury Consumer


European Brands Find New Homes

In the past decade a flurry of French, English and Italian luxury brands have ceded control to foreign investors, some due to hangovers from 2008’s global financial crisis, others in a bid to expand and better conquer so-called ‘emerging’ markets.

Britain’s Aquascutum was recently acquired by China’s YGM, Italy’s Cerruti is now controlled by China’s Trinity Limited, Germany’s Escada is owned by India’s Mittal family and France’s Sonia Rykiel forms a part of Hong Kong based Fung Brands. Bedat, Gieves & Hawkes, ST Dupont, Ferretti Group and Pringle of Scotland form further examples of European brands picked up by foreign owners.

Most recently, Kazakh billionaire Goga Ashkenazi purchased the remaining shares of Vionnet from Matteo Marzotto, to become the sole owner of the heritage brand.
Further Reading: Emerging Wealth Fuels Foreign Acquisition of European Luxury Brands


Exit from Argentina

Weary of high tariffs and currency restrictions that have dented their profits in Argentina, purveyors of luxury goods abandoned this once lucrative market, according to AFP. Brands such as Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, Escada and Calvin Klein shuttered doors on their local boutiques, as Ermenegildo Zegna was forced to close one of its retail locations for two months because it could not import stock.

Giorgio Armani, Hermès and Cartier are three more significant luxury brands rumoured to be shuttering local operations, as the government ramps up import barriers and imposes tough currency controls tightening measures to protect foreign exchange reserves.
Further Reading: A Quick Look at Luxury in the BRICs


Fashioned Fine Jewellery

‘Hard luxury’ became a bit of a buzzword in 2012, as stellar jewellery and timepiece performance suggested a shift from seasonal accessories to investment in longer term luxury goods. Louis Vuitton cemented its commitment to fine jewellery with the opening of its dedicated jewellery boutique and atelier, on the prominent corner site of Place Vendôme.

“All of this suggests the jewellery sector is getting the full heat of the luxury industry’s fast growth incubator,” explained Maria Doulton. “And with reason, the Richemont Group reported that in 2012 their jewellery maisons represented 52% of sales by area against 26% for watches. Between Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels sales grew from €3,479 million in 2011 to €4,590 million in 2012, representing an increase in 32% for jewellery sales similar to the 31% for watches.”

“If we look at how the luxury conglomerates turned around the watch industry ten years ago, it appears that the same fervour is being focused on, the until now largely unbranded and under exploited, jewellery industry.”
Further Reading: Innovation & Creativity Suggest a Bright Future for Branded High Jewellery


Luxury Loves a Lawsuit

Hermès International SCA won a judgment against 34 websites that sold fake copies of its luxury goods and was awarded approximately $100 million in damages. LVMH was less lucky when the French high court partly overturned rulings against eBay from 2008, when LVMH accused the online marketplace of breaching distribution networks and selling counterfeit goods. eBay was originally ordered to pay €38 million in fines, an amount reduced to €5 million in 2012.

Richemont went up against a Russian organisation, which was producing mid-priced clothes under the locally registered trademarks “Vacheron Constantin” and “Jaeger Lecoultre”.

12 sitting justices unanimously agreed that a well-known trademark in another country may not be co-opted and applied to different goods in the local country because it is confusing to the consumer and unfairly trades on reputation. They also ordered that the local trademarks be cancelled.
Further Reading: Luxury Conglomerates Have Their Day in Court


M&A Goes Vertical

The industrialisation of the luxury industry has resulted in a record amount of M&A deals in the past decade. Where the initial focus was developing a portfolio of strong individual brands – bringing us conglomerates as we know them today – the focus is shifting towards the acquisition of suppliers and craftsman, in a bid to protect competitive advantage in the future.

In 2012 alone, Chanel acquired cashmere producer – and longtime supplier – Barrie knitwear. Italian textile leaders Ermenegildo Zegna, Marzotto and Loro Piana purchased a controlling stake in Pettinature Di Verro, a combing mill specialised in fine wool, cashmere and special fabrics needed for suiting.

La Montre Hermès acquired dial manufacturer Natéber SA, more recently Richemont took control of VVSA, a high-end manufacturer of stamped exterior components for watches. LVMH managed to acquire two watch dial manufacturers – Léman Cadran and ArteCad SA – as well as French artisan shoemaker Delos Bottier & Cie and haute couture manufacturer Arnys.
Further Reading: Luxury M&A Goes Vertical


The Heritage Revival

The current economic slowdown, combined with densely crowded prestige markets, has led many entrepreneurs to consider reanimating an old brand rather than creating a new one,” explains James Lawson. “By reviving an old brand, entrepreneurs will benefit from its existing brand recognition and equity, usually defined as a combination of positive visual, verbal and emotional associations.”

A classic example is Faberge whose brand was long used for fragrances and cosmetics and only recently saw the original production of jewelled eggs restored. Similarly, LVMH acquired Moynat, a luxury leather luggage house that was founded 150 years ago but whose brand had been dormant for the past three decades. This year Tod’s resuscitated Maison Schiapparelli, a fashion brand that had been dormant since 1954.

Further Reading: Luxury Conglomerates Look to Heritage Revival

To further investigate the overall luxury industry on Luxury Society, we invite your to explore the related materials as follows:

2012’s Best Global Luxury Brands
2012 Luxury Industry Predictions from the Experts
A Year of Change: The Luxury Industry in 2011

© Luxury Society, 8 Trends That Defined The Luxury Industry in 2012, 18 December 2012, by Sophie Doran.

Live the life!



Nicolas Ghesquière and Balenciaga will part ways at the end of November (Image: Giovanni Giannoni, WWD / Condé Nast / Corbis).

The Latest Appointments at Tom Ford, Walpole, Alberta Ferretti, Richemont, Orient-Express & Vertu, with exits at Balenciaga, Gilt Groupe, Azzaro & Cacharel.

After 15 years with PPR, Nicolas Ghesquière and Balenciaga have reached a “joint decision to end their working relationship,” effective Nov. 30. CEO Isabelle Guichot told WWD a successor would be named “as soon as we’re ready,” and that the brand already has a short list of candidates. Over the weekend Christopher Kane was rumoured to take the top spot, something he has since denied to WWD.

Over at Azzaro, creative director Mathilde Castello Branco has stepped down from her role after just over a year. “The House of Azzaro and Mathilde Castello Branco are moving forward in different directions,” explained a statement from the brand. “Azzaro will shortly be announcing her successor.”

At Cacharel, CEO Pascal d’Halluin has confirmed his exit, also after less than one year in the role. According to WWD, the executive is leaving by mutual agreement with the French label’s founder and president Jean Bousquet following his trial period.

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, chairman of Ferrari, has resigned his position as chairman of Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori, Europe’s first private operator of high-speed trains. “My growing professional commitments force me to step back now that the company is fully operational,” Montezemolo explained to Reuters. “I will continue to contribute to the success of this company, as shareholder and board member.”

Finally Gilt Group’s board and co-founder Kevin Ryan have “agreed about two months ago that Ryan should step aside in favour of a new CEO with strong operations and e-commerce skills.” The to-be-named replacement will be the company’s third CEO in two years, and is expected to steer the eventual launch of an IPO.

Marc Spiegler, Director, Art Basel

Marc Spiegler has been appointed to oversee Art Basel events in Basel, Switzerland; Miami Beach, Florida & Hong Kong, as the organisation re-arranges its leadership team. Mr. Spiegler will chair a four-member executive committee including a director of new initiatives, director Asia, and a director of resources and finance who will be named in the near future.

Source: Gallerist
Kamel Ouadi, Managing Director, Christie’s

Kamel Ouadi has joined famed auction house Christie’s as international managing director. Mr. Ouadi most recently served at Louis Vuitton as chief digital officer/chief creative officer, where he was responsible for the conception and launch of NOWNESS.com

Source: LinkedIn
Jean-Guillaume Prats, CEO, Estates & Wines

Jean-Guillaume Prats will join LVMH-owned Estates & Wines effective February 2013. Mr. Prats will be based in Paris, and will be a board member of the LVMH Comité Opérationnel. Since 2011, Prats has been chairman of the board of Domaines Reybier and Château Cos d’Estournel.

Source: Decanter
Eddy Cue, Board, Ferrari

Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP Internet software and services has joined the board of Ferrari. Mr. Cue currently oversees the iTunes Store, the App Store and the iBookstore, as well as Siri, Maps, iAd and Apple’s iCloud services.

Source: New Car Net
Christophe de Pous, CEO, Gucci North America

Effective January 1, Christophe de Pous will assume responsibility for Gucci North America. Mr. De Pous has served as president and CEO of Gucci Japan since September 2009, and replaces Lauren Lendrum, who left the position in April.

Source: Styleite
Cristina Egal, Managing Director, Lorenz Bäumer

Cristina Egal has been named the first managing director of Lorenz Bäumer, reporting to Bäumer, the president, founder and creative force behind the brand. Most recently, Ms. Egal operated an eponymous communications agency and boasted such clients as BNP Paribas, Sodexo, Servair and Fondation Claude Pompidou.

Source: Fashion Snoops
John Scott, CEO, Orient-Express

John Scott will become president and CEO of Orient-Express hotels, after serving as CEO of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts for over eight years. He replaces Paul White, the former president and CEO of Orient-Express Hotels, who resigned from the company and from the Board last year.

Source: Travel Mole
Natalie Ratabesi, Creative Director, Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti

Alberta Ferretti will hand over the creative direction of the Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti collection to Natalie Ratabesi, who most recently served as senior creative director at Ralph Lauren. The British designer and graduate from Central Saint Martins College will make her debut for the brand with the autumn/winter 2013 collection.

Source: Fashion United
Bernard Fornas, Richard Lepeu, Co-CEOs, Richemont

Richemont has appointed two longstanding employees as joint chief executives, in a bid to help founder and controlling shareholder Johann Rupert steer the luxury goods group through a period of slowing sales growth in its important Asian markets. Cartier chief Bernard Fornas and deputy chief executive Richard Lepeu will take over from Rupert as CEO in April 2013.

Source: Reuters
Eva Taub, CEO, Robert Clergerie

Robert Clergerie has appointed Eva Taub as CEO, following tenure as head of Christian Dior Couture’s leather division at LVMH. The Stanford and Harvard Business School alum previously launched Isotoner in Europe, prior to which she served as a Merrill Lynch financial advisor in New York and Hong Kong.

Source: Fashion Week Daily
Jerome Cheung, CEO Asia Pacific, Tom Ford

Former Gucci Group executive Jerome Cheung, has been named to succeed Regina Lam as chief executive officer at Tom Ford, for the Asia-Pacific area. The position is based in Hong Kong and Cheung will be reporting to Tom Mendenhall, vice president and chief operating officer (COO) of the company since 2006.

Source: Fashion Mag
Anssi Vanjoki, Chairman, Vertu

Luxury phone maker Vertu has selected long-time Nokia executive Anssi Vanjoki as its non-executive chairman following an ownership change. Vanjoki, who spent 20 years at Nokia in various executive positions, left the Finnish cell phone maker in 2010 after the board appointed Stephen Elop as the next chief executive.

Source: Reuters
Michael Ward, Jonathan Heilbron, Board, Walpole

UK luxury brand trade body, Walpole, has announced the appointment of Michael Ward, managing director of Harrods, and Jonathan Heilbron, CEO of Thomas Pink, to its board of directors. Prior to joining the board, both Ward and Heilbron have been long-time supporters of Walpole, as Walpole Brands of Tomorrow mentors and regular speakers.

Source: Fashion United

For more in the series of The Latest Appointments, please see our most recent editions as follows:

The Latest Appointments: PPR, Cadillac & Baccarat
The Latest Appointments: Mulberry, DVF & Ralph Lauren
The Latest Appointments: Burberry, Coty & Condé Nast

© Luxury Society, The Latest Appointments: Christie’s, Richemont & Ferrari, 19 November 2012, by Sophie Doran.

Live the life!



Orient Express turns down a $1.8 billion takeover bid from Indian Hotels Group, as mining company Gemfields seeks to acquire fine jeweller Fabergé for $142 million.

Acquired: Fabergé, Gemfields

Gemfields, pending minority investor approval, is to buy luxury jeweler Faberge from one of the colored gem miner’s own shareholders, in a deal valuing the fine jeweller at $142 million. The all-share deal will create an integrated company that mines colored stones and uses the Faberge brand to promote their use in jewelery.

Source: Reuters
Speculation: Sale, Aston Martin

Investment Dar Co., owner of Aston Martin, is said to be in “advanced” talks to sell new shares to investors to boost funding for future development. The Kuwaiti based investment group has received competing bids from Investindustrial and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. (MM) for 50% of voting rights and a 40% equity stake.

Source: Bloomberg
Rejected: Takeover Bid, Orient-Express

Orient-Express has rejected an unsolicited $1.2 billion takeover offer from Tata Group’s Indian Hotels Co Ltd and a fund controlled by Italy’s Montezemolo & Partners. The unsolicited bid was 43% higher than Orient-Express’s 20-day average price, a record premium for the industry, and valued the company at the highest earnings multiple in six years for a hotel takeover.

Source: Reuters, WSJ
Acquired: Investcorp, Georg Jensen

Bahrain-based alternative asset manager, Investcorp, has purchased Danish luxury retailer Georg Jensen for $140 million. Hazem Ben-Gacem, Investcorp’s European private equity head, will co-chair Georg Jensen, as saying Investcorp planned to expand the Danish brand in Asia, particularly China.

Source: Reuters
Speculation: PPR, Christopher Kane

PPR, helmed by Francois-Henri Pinault, is said to be in discussions with Christopher Kane, to invest in his eponymous brand. The company is believed to have held discussions with Christopher Kane in which financial backing has been offered. Nothing has yet been confirmed and representatives for PPR and Kane were unavailable for comment.

Source: Vogue UK
Acquired: Vionnet, Goga Ashkenazi

Kazakh oil billionaire Goga Ashkenazi has acquired all outstanding shares in Vionnet to become its sole owner. Ms. Ashkenazi bought into Vionnet in May 2012, but has since purchased all remaining shares from past owners Matteo Marzotto and Marni CEO Gianni Castiglioni.

Source: Elle UK
Boughtback: Derek Lam, Labelux

In a bid to refocus on luxury leather goods and shoes, Labelux has sold Derek Lam back to its founders, Lam and CEO Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann. “We have taken a strategic decision to refocus our activity on luxury leather goods and shoes,” explained CEO Reinhard Mieck said. “We wish Derek and Jan well as we return the leadership into their capable hands.”

Source: Fashionista
Invested: Damiani, India

Damiani is the first foreign investor to get the government approval to invest in the jewellery monobrand retail in India, after working with the Indian government to acquire 51% of Damiani India Pvt Ltd, the company managing the Damiani store in New Delhi at the Oberoi Hotel. Damiani will then agree to establish a joint venture with Indian partners.

Source: Damiani
Confirmed: Karl Lagerfeld, Inter Parfums

Karl Lagerfeld has signed a 20 year worldwide license agreement with Inter Parfums, to create and distribute perfumes under the German fashion designer’s namesake brand. Karl Lagerfeld has since ended its deal with fragrance and cosmetics company Coty BV.

Source: Reuters
Sold: Plaza Hotel, Subrata Roy

Indian billionaire Subrata Roy has purchased a 75% stake in New York’s iconic Plaza Hotel for $575m from US-Israeli retailer El Ad. The remaining 25% of the hotel is being retained by its current owner, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, via his Kingdom Holding group.

Source: BBC
Rejected: Four Seasons Hotel NYC, Asian Buyer

Four Seasons Hotel New York owner H. Ty Warner has decided not to sell the Manhattan property after receiving an unsolicited bid of about $900 million. “Due to the continued strength in the New York real estate market and impending fiscal cliff, he does not feel that this is an advantageous time to sell this iconic property,” explained Donna Snopek, chief financial officer of Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts LLC.

Source: Bloomberg
Invested: DiamondCorp, Laurelton Diamonds

Laurelton Diamonds Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Tiffany & Co., has issued a $6 million term loan to DiamondCorp plc, a South African diamond development and exploration company listed on London’s AIM stock exchange. As part of the loan agreement, Laurelton Diamonds will have the right to purchase production from DiamondCorp’s Lace Mine in South Africa.

Source: WWD
Stake: Luxottica, Salmoiraghi & Viganò

Salmoiraghi & Viganò, a leading Italian company in the eyewear retail sector, has received approximately €45 million from eyewear manufacturer Luxottica. Luxottica will subscribe for newly issued shares of Salmoiraghi & Viganò resulting in a 36% equity stake in the Italian optical retailer, which will retain control of company operations.

Source: 4Traders
Acquired: Four Seasons Toronto, Saudi Prince Walid

Billionaire Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding investment group has purchased the luxury hotel Four Seasons Toronto, Canada for $200 million. “The transaction was funded by a $130 million mortgage loan while $70 million came from (the company’s) own resources,” Hazem al-Dosari, a Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) spokesman, told AFP.

Source: Al Arabiya
Sold: Ekati Diamond Mine, BHP

Diamond company Harry Winston agreed to purchase BHP Billiton’s Ekati mine in Canada and its marketing operations for the precious stones for $500 million. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year, according to BHP.

Source: The Israeli Diamond Industry
Invested: Aeffe, Emanuel Ungaro

Aeffe has signed an exclusive partnership agreement with Emanuel Ungaro for the production and worldwide distribution of women’s clothing and accessories, as well as the option to acquire a significant minority share of Ungaro’s capital stock on achieving shared goals. The license will be active for a period of 7 years, with the option to renew.

Source: Aeffe

For more in the series of The Latest Investments, please see our most recent editions as follows:

The Latest Investments: Chanel, Marcolin & Orient Express
The Latest Investments: Anya Hindmarch, Berluti & Harry Winston
The Latest Investments: Coty, Porsche & Valentino

© Luxury Society, The Latest Investments: Aston Martin, Fabergé & Christopher Kane, 30 November 2012, by Sophie Doran.

Live the life!



Maison Moynat, founded in 1849, revived by LVMH in 2011

James Lawson, director of Ledbury Research, explains why well capitalised entrepreneurs are looking for opportunities with dormant prestige brands

The current economic slowdown, combined with densely crowded prestige markets, has led many entrepreneurs to consider reanimating an old brand rather than creating a new one. This entails acquiring the brand, either to restart its original activities or to use its reputation to start new production.

A brand is normally considered dormant – and, therefore, available for acquisition – if its trademarks have not been used for a number of consecutive years, usually three or five, depending on the country.

By reviving an old brand, entrepreneurs will benefit from its existing brand recognition and equity, usually defined as a combination of positive visual, verbal and emotional associations. That is to say, an historic brand intrinsically carries a sense of heritage, credibility and longevity.

“By reviving an old brand, entrepreneurs will benefit from its existing brand recognition and equity.”

Also, from a financial perspective, unlike the creation of a new brand, the reanimation of an historic brand would require a smaller initial investment to cover marketing costs.

However, reviving an old brand can also present a number of disadvantages. Beyond questioning why the brand died originally, the new products, for example, might not appeal to a younger generation or take into consideration the changes in consumers’ taste.

In addition, using an old brand to commercialise a new range of products could generate confusion in those customers who still associate it with the old products.

“Using an old brand to commercialise a new range of products could generate consumer confusion.”

Recently, the trend of re-launching historic brands has become particularly significant across the luxury industry, especially among major luxury groups that are looking for historic fashion houses with deep roots and a high level of authenticity.

A classic example is Faberge whose brand was long used for fragrances and cosmetics and only recently saw the original production of jewelled eggs restored. Similarly, LVMH acquired Moynat, a luxury leather luggage house that was founded 150 years ago but whose brand had been dormant for the past three decades.

Moreover, following its successful re-launch of the French shoemaker Roger Vivier a few years ago, this year Tod’s resuscitated Maison Schiapparelli, a fashion brand that had been dormant since 1954.

“Reviving historic brands requires a significant initial investment that only major luxury groups could likely contemplate.”

Undoubtedly, reviving historic brands requires a significant initial investment that only major luxury groups could likely contemplate, and in most cases, the name and the logo represent the only elements of continuity between the historic brand and its present incarnation.

Nevertheless, it appears to be a cost-efficient development strategy for companies looking to create an exclusive niche brand characterised by a strong sense of history and heritage.

To further investigate luxury brands on Luxury Society, we invite your to explore the related materials as follows:

2012’s Best Global Luxury Brands
What Makes for a Successful Luxury Re-Brand?
Has Luxury Brand Diversification Gone Too Far?

© Luxury Society, Luxury Conglomerates Look to Heritage Revival, 04 December 2012, by James Lawson.

Ledbury Research
is a research company specialising in the understanding and engaging of High Net Worth Individuals.

Bespoke consumer work spans all forms of quantitative and qualitative research, typically conducted on a multi-country basis, in wealth hubs around the world.

The analyst team delivers market information, trends and analysis through regular reports on the luxury and wealth markets.

Live the life!



An excerpt from Diane von Furstenberg’s Glossi

Montblanc teams up with Harrods to launch an in-store augmented reality experience, as Hermès partners with Harper’s Bazaar to retail a limited collection online.

In the past month the digital luxury landscape has been dominated by the moves of the media and retailers. As the New York times announced restructuring measures to the tune of thirty senior journalists, Net-a-Porter announced its intention to launch a full-blown fashion glossy.

As Rupert Murdoch confirmed he will shutter The Daily – the iPad-only magazine he launched two years ago – social-shopping company ThisNext unveiled Glossi, a platform which allows users and brands to create their very own digital magazines.

But perhaps nothing was more surprising, than to hear that Hermès will be retailing a selection of footwear on the eCommerce venture of fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar. Digital may have muddied the waters, but never have the lines between brand, retailer and publisher been so blurred.


Boucheron, Website

Jeweller Boucheron has relaunched its website in the colours of the new visual identity of the maison. Visitors can browse the portal in English, French, Japanese and Simplified Chinese, or take a virtual 360-degree tour through the Boucheron flagship store at Paris’s Place Vendôme. For the first time, Boucheron is sharing the history of its founders and products, whilst boosting social connectivity with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube integration.

Website & Source: boucheron.com


Cartier, e-Commerce

Cartier has relaunched its e-Commerce offering in the United States, with an enhanced e-boutique and 360-degree product display and videos. Alongside the online boutique, the site offers information regarding after sales service, product maintenance and store locations, as well as dedicated sections to heritage, CSR projects, events, savoir-faire and social media.

Website: cartier.com
Source: Luxury Digital


Ferrari, App

Ferrari has launched an App for brand fanatics, offering users the opportunity to discover its rich history, simulate driving, wake up to the sound of a V12, take Ferrari-themed photos with RedCam or personalise devices with wallpapers. Built for the iPhone and iPad, the app comprises of photo galleries, videos and factsheets about current and classic models as well as selected Sports Prototype and Formula 1 cars.

Download: Ferrari Mania
Source: Luxury Daily

Georg Jensen Holition Gesture Experience from Holition AR on Vimeo.

Georg Jensen, Augmented Reality

Holition has created a unique application for the special launch of George Jensen’s ‘Fusion Ring Builder’ website. The website was activated to run in store using gesture to drive product selection, simply by selecting product with a hand gesture. The user can play and see the separate components of the Fusion ring come together from all angles using the iPad, or use one of Georg Jensen’s personalised iPads at Harrods, Selfridges London and Selfridges Manchester.

Website: georgjensen.com
Developer: Holition
Source: Retail Jeweller


Harper’s Bazaar, Hermès, eCommerce

Hermès is set to debut some of its products on ShopBazaar.com, the eCommerce site powered by fashion glossy Harper’s Bazaar. In the first e-commerce channel outside of its own website, the French luxury house will retail six shoe styles. “We thought it would be great to expand the introduction of Hermès footwear to Bazaar’s audience,” explained Hermès CEO USA Robert Chavez.

Website: ShopBazaar.com
Source: Fashion United


Luxure, iPad

Luxure has launched its inaugural iPad Edition, in a bid to showcase its existing magazine content in the most spectacular, insightful and explorative of climates. The iPad Edition of Luxure will provide insight into an array of photography complemented by the new retina display, alongside rich additional content via audio, video and animation.

Download & Source: Luxure


Montblanc, Virtual Pop-Up

Harrods London and Montblanc UK collaborated to produce a virtual pop-up store, featuring an extensive selection of artworks from the Montblanc Cutting Edge Art Collection, permanently exhibited in Hamburg. By pointing a smartphone or tablet at the image displayed in one of the Montblanc Harrods windows, users could not only view the artworks, but purchase four exclusive Montblanc products through Harrods.

Website & Source: montblanc.com


Prada, iPad

In celebration of its Fall Winter 2012 menswear show in Paris, Prada collaborated with fashion illustrator Richard Haines, to produce a limited edition book featuring 150 artworks based on the collection. In the final chapter of the project the Italian brand has launched an iPad application, allowing users to take an interactive tour of a virtual palazzo designed by James Lima, to discover both the artworks and collection.

Download: Il Palazzo
Source: Prada


Shanghai Tang, App

In time for the holiday season, Shanghai Tang has launched apps on Facebook and Sina Weibo, allowing fans to create Christmas wish lists according to their Chinese zodiac sign and share it with their friends. The wish list is focused on Shanghai Tang’s Christmas collection of homeware, displayed in an animated kaleidoscope, and users can then personalise the products they want to include prior to sharing the final wish list with their friends.

Apps: Facebook, Sina Weibo


Whitewall, Website

Whitewall is pleased to announce the launch of the new beta version of Whitewallmag.com, which will continue to cover contemporary art, luxury lifestyle, fashion, and design, and how these industries intersect. Debuting on the eve of Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB) 2012, the site will focus exclusively on pre- and day-to-day coverage of the fair.

Source: whitewallmag.com

For more in the series of The Latest Digital, please see our most recent editions as follows:

The Latest Digital: Balmain, Yoox & Mandarin Oriental
The Latest Digital: Versace, Balenciaga & Ritz-Carlton
The Latest Digital: BMW, Maserati & Salvatore Ferragamo

© Luxury Society, The Latest Digital: Cartier, Prada & Tod’s, 05 December 2012, by Sophie Doran.

Live the life!