Luxury in the World

Exclusive insights and interviews with luxury leaders from the business world.

In Conversation With Christophe Georges, President & CEO, Bentley Motors Inc.

Bentley is not a marketing concept that was created because of communication, explains Christophe Georges, President & CEO of Bentley Motors Inc.

2013 was a record sales year for Bentley. The Crewe, England-based manufacturer of €150,000+ cars posted a 19% rise in world-wide sales, reaching 10,120 units. New retail concepts were tested, a new dealership identity was conceived and an SUV for 2016 was confirmed, as the brand expanded into homewares for the very first time.

Bentley Motors  Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation With Alain Crevet, CEO, S.T. Dupont
Alain Crevet, the mastermind behind S.T. Dupont’s return to glory as a luxury accessories leader, talks to Luxury Society about the brand’s blueprint for the future.

As CEO of French luxury accessories brand S.T Dupont, Alain Crevet now oversees an empire which has supplied emperors, governments, and global aristocrats for over a century.

Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation With Iain Watson, Managing Director, David Collins Studio
Fresh from the firm’s 30th anniversary celebrations last month, the head of David Collins Studio takes us into the world of opulent interior design and reveals what it’s like to create for some of luxury’s largest names, including Kering.

If the “devil is in the details”, then the crew at David Collins have mastered the art to a wicked degree.

So devilishly divine are their designs, that even luxury behemoths such as Kering and Bergdorf Goodman, Harrods, and Graff, have acquiesced, and signed them on for extensive projects – including the most recent rollout of the Alexander McQueen flagship Paris store, on the prestigious Rue Saint-Honoré.

Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation With Edie Rodriguez, CEO, Crystal Cruises
Luxury travel leader Crystal Cruises recently announced a billion-dollar plan to embark on the largest expansion in its 25-year history. Here, CEO Edie Rodriguez reveals her strategy to conquer luxury over land, sea and air.

A couple of months ago, Crystal Cruises announced the most significant brand expansion in the history of luxury travel and hospitality – capping off its 25-year anniversary with an ambitious new goal to conquer the seven seas, land, and air.

The aggressive expansion, announced this July by Crystal’s President & CEO, Edie Rodriguez and its new Chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, will see the traditionally two-ship strong brand introduce a suite of new vessels over the next three years, as well as its own Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft to better cater to affluent travellers.

Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation With Fiona Kruger, Independent Watchmaker
Despite being classed as an ‘independent’, 30-year-old Fiona Kruger is a rebel in her own right. Curious about this feisty new kid on the block, Luxury Society sat down to discuss her recent Baselworld debut and her business.
Leaders in Luxury 

Interview with Ivanka Trump
By Christine Gray
Ivanka Trump talks with Luxury Travel Magazine about the Trump Hotel Collection - past, present and future.

Leaders in Luxury  Trump Hotel Collection 

In Conversation With Michele Sofisti, CEO, Sowind Group
18 Mar 2014
Michele Sofisti, CEO of Sowind Group, reveals the opportunities & challenges facing the timepiece industry, from the perspectives of JEANRICHARD and Girard-Perregaux.

In mid-2011, Kering became the majority shareholder of Sowind Group – home to Girard-Perregaux and JEANRICHARD – in a bid to bolster the activities of it’s small stable of watch and jewellery brands. The move gave the French conglomerate it’s first big push into the world of complicated timepieces and it’s first base in Switzerland.

The investment gave the acquired brands access to Kering’s network of advertising and distribution channels, alongside the financial independence to pursue a global expansion strategy. In August 2011, Michele Sofisti, the CEO of Gucci Group Watches, was brought in to oversee the overhaul for each of these historic brands, whilst maintaining his responsibilities with Gucci.

The trained geologist began his career in watches at Swatch Group, joining as Vice-President – and becoming President – of OMEGA. He subsequently served as President of Fred Jewelers and Christian Dior watches at LVMH, then held the position of President of Swatch AG (Switzerland) for five years before launching his own consulting company.

During his tenure at Gucci Group Watches, he has been widely credited with successfully repositioning Gucci’s product offering within the watchmaking market. And, under his leadership, both JEANRICHARD and Girard-Perregaux are making significant progress towards a prosperous future.

We spoke with Michele about the opportunities and challenges he is facing as CEO of Sowind Group in an ever-changing market for luxury timepieces.

Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation With Thierry Andretta, CEO, Buccellati
10 Jun 2014
Thierry Andretta, CEO of Buccellati, explains why the Italian heritage brand is well positioned for the next phase of global luxury consumption.

“Luxury still exists and will continue to exist forever,” believes Thierry Andretta, the current CEO of Buccellati, who more-than-doubled revenue at Lanvin during his four year tenure. “Though it’s definitely moving towards individuality,” he continues, “the industry is starting to shift back to its origins, where clients would have items made especially for them.”

For such reasons, Buccellati is excellently positioned. The Italian heritage brand has as-yet eschewed red carpet placement in favour of creating made-to-order pieces that can retail beyond the $1 million mark. Most recently it unveiled a bespoke watch program, which draws heavily on precious stones and high jewellery aesthetics, for which prices begin at $120,000.

Thierry Andretta was appointed CEO in July 2013, roughly four months after Italian private equity fund Clessidra took a majority stake in the family owned jeweler. In February 2014 Lucrezia Buccellati – a fourth generation family member – joined her father Andrea to lead design and creative direction.

This new management team will lead Buccellati into modernity and new markets, as the brand itself undergoes a refresh during 2014. We spoke with Thierry Andretta about his vision for the Buccellati of the future.

Buccellati  Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation With Paul James, Global Brand Leader, Starwood Luxury Hotels
8 May 2014
Paul James, Global Brand Leader of Starwood Luxury Hotels, explains why today there is no destination too obscure to build a luxury hotel.

“We’re on a bit of a global rampage at the moment,” explains Paul James, global brand leader of Starwood’s luxury hotels – W, St. Regis and Luxury Collection. “W literally just opened in Verbier for the ski season. The next W opening will be in Beijing, and then, within a month or two after that, we’ll be in Bogata in Columbia. “

“We’re looking at our first Luxury Collection hotel in the Lebanon. We’ve got a Luxury Collection opening in San Antonio, Texas. Then we’re opening in Dalian and in Hangzhou in the next four to five months.“

“For St. Regis, the big story for this year is Istanbul. The company has been there a long time so we’ve got a really good understanding of how the market works and we’ll be opening there late summer. Then the next flag I think will be in Chengdu in China. That to me kind of is a real picture of global diversity.”

Appointed Global Brand Leader in 2008 for the three Starwood brands, James has been responsible for providing the overall strategic and creative direction for all three brands by leading the development of marketing, guest experience and communications programs.

He has also witnessed the luxury hotel industry undergo a significant period of change; disrupted by the advent of the Internet, challenged by the global financial crisis and eventually resurrected by a new segment of younger, globally diverse high net worth individuals.

We spoke with Paul James about how each of his hotel brands are positioned to serve the luxury consumers of the future.

Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation With Thierry Stern, President, Patek Philippe
22 Apr 2014
Thierry Stern, President of Patek Philippe, reveals his thoughts on eCommerce, emerging markets and the opportunities ahead for complicated women’s watches.

Since his official appointment as President in 2009, Thierry Stern has served as guardian to the last family-owned independent watch manufacturer in Geneva, Patek Philippe. The famed Swiss brand has remained in the hands of the Stern family since 1932, continuing the vision of founders Antoine Norbert de Patek and Adrien Philippe.

Swiss watch exports attained a record level of sales in 2013, equivalent to 21.8 billion francs, an increase of 1.9% on 2012. The segment has grown beyond belief and expectation in the past decade, but growth is finally slowing and the market stands forever changed by rampant acquisition, where the playing field is now dominated by consolidated conglomerates with deep pockets.

Leaders in Luxury  Patek Philippe 

Interview with Abercrombie & Kent Villas General Manager, Adam Coates
April 9, 2014
Adam has been with the company for 10 years and has a wide knowledge of the villa industry and the A&K programme in particular.

Abercrombie & Kent  Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation With Pierre Denis, CEO of Jimmy Choo
27 Feb, 2014
Pierre Denis is the CEO of Jimmy Choo. He talks to Elite Traveler about the brand’s vision, expansion plans and its brand ambassador, Nicole Kidman.

Jimmy Choo  Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation With Caroline Brown, President, Carolina Herrera
27 Jan 2014
Caroline Brown, President of Carolina Herrera, takes us behind the scenes of a diversified modern luxury brand, retailing fashion & fragrance in over 100 countries.

Since the launch of a first capsule in New York in 1981, the Carolina Herrera business has grown to produce numerous collections of ready-to-wear and accessories for women, men and children, as well as bridal, eyewear and fragrances.

The brand is now available in 104 countries at 15,000 points of distribution including 103 CH Carolina Herrera and 4 Carolina Herrera New York retail locations.

In short, it’s big business, helmed by President Caroline Brown in partnership with founder, Carolina Herrera herself. Prior to her appointment at Herrera, Caroline served as CEO of Swiss luxury fashion house, Akris, Inc, after spending over a decade working for Giorgio Armani Corporation in several roles, including Senior Vice President of Communications & Marketing.

Carolina Herrera  Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation With Maximilian Büsser, Founder, MB&F
13 Jan 2014
Maximilian Büsser, founder of MB&F, is the first person to tell the world that no-one needs a watch, let alone one that is ten thousand times less accurate than quartz, for a thousand times the price.

Maximilian Büsser, founder of MB&F, is the first person to tell the world that no-one needs a watch. Let alone a mechanical watch, which he describes as “ten thousand times less accurate and a thousand times more expensive” than a quartz watch. In spite of himself, he manages to sell more than 200 horlogical machines per year, each retailing between €70,000 and €150,000.

Büsser began his career at Jaeger-LeCoultre, after graduating in Lausanne with a Masters degree in Micro-Technology Engineering. He spent seven years in their senior management team before being appointed managing director of Harry Winston Rare Timepieces in 1998, at the age of 31.

Leaders in Luxury  MB&F Maximilian Büsser & Friends - Horological Machines 

In Conversation With Domenico de Sole, Chairman, Tom Ford
8 Aug 2013
First CEO of Gucci, now Chairman of Tom Ford International. Domenico De Sole has an eye for style, stores and the bottom line.

“I went to visit Tom at his beautiful ranch in Santa Fe (New Mexico) just a social visit , no business purpose. He was about to make a movie (“A Single Man”(and he said he wanted to go back into business. So my advice to him was it had to be done pretty quickly. We agreed and went back into business together…and my retirement was post-poned.”

Once the decision was made, things moved fast: start-up money came from their own pockets; makeup and eyewear licensing agreements with Estee Lauder and the Marcolin Group, respectively, were signed in 2005. The products themselves were launched the next year, and in April 2007 the first collection was presented at the first store, in New York, for men.

Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation With Andrew Keith, President, Lane Crawford & Joyce Group
31 Jul 2013
Andrew Keith, President of Lane Crawford & Joyce Group, reveals how an aim to enable convenience for shoppers is uniting group strategy both on and off-line.

Lane Crawford and Joyce have been household names for luxury shopping in Hong Kong for decades and now China. With a gutsy online strategy the group wants a bigger slice of global luxury spending, both from its wealthy Hong Kong and China clients while they are traveling and those from the West that want to tap into its eclectic and fashionable base of designers.

With the rise of the Chinese Ultra High Net Worth woman who is ‘calling the shots,’ Elite Traveler Editor-in-Chief Douglas Gollan visited Andrew Keith at his Hong Kong headquarters where the Scotsman is currently looking to build on his run of success.

Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation With Nicolas Bos, CEO, Van Cleef et Arpels
18 Jul 2013
Nicolas Bos, CEO & Creative Director of Van Cleef et Arpels, explains why the iconic jewellery maison refuses to be led by marketing and opportunism.

At Van Cleef & Arpels, we are grounded both in continuity and in a process of collective creation, which includes a wide range of expertise in keeping with the different, traditional crafts of jewellery. We have workshops, teams, boutiques, and a company that is based around creativity and on transforming this into collections and products that will find the clientele to wear them, and thus foster the cycle of commercial activity.

There’s a team of experts required to work together to develop each creation, and each piece has to have complete respect for the history and identity of the maison. This definition of the creative direction involves both the orchestration of the creative process, which is fairly long – around three years – and the adherence in style of each collection with the identity of the maison – whose hallmarks are its history and the importance of its heritage.

Leaders in Luxury  Van Cleef & Arpels 

In Conversation With Michele Norsa, CEO, Salvatore Ferragamo
9 Jul 2013
Over the past two years Salvatore Ferragamo has updated its image, listed on the stock exchange, brought in an outsider as CEO and opened a slew of boutiques in Asia. Is the strategy working?

It wasn’t long after Salvatore Ferragamo opened his first store in Italy in the 1950’s that he began selling shoes to the Hollywoodian likes of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. The Vara stacked-heel shoes and Varina ballet flats quickly evolved into fashion icons…ready-to-wear featured top-notch textiles and leathers…and therein lay the rub.

The brand became “classic,” sought-after more by First Ladies and society matrons than Hollywood stars. Solid, dependable customers but not ones you find in abundance in today’s Asian growth markets. Clearly, something had to be done to reposition the company to attract new, younger customers while not losing Ferragamo’s hallmarks of luxury and class.

Leaders in Luxury  Salvatore Ferragamo 

Interview with 3 Star Michelin Chef Christopher Kostow of Meadowood Napa Valley
March 15, 2013, By Christine Gray
A Michelin-starred chef before the age of 30, Christopher Kostow takes a thoughtful approach to food that belies his age. Masterfully blending contemporary French cuisine with the farm-to-table tradition, Christopher creates a transcendent experience for diners every night at The Restaurant at Meadowood.

Christopher Kostow, Chef  Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation With Marc A. Hayek, Swatch Group
30 May 2013
Marc A. Hayek, CEO of Breguet, Blancpain and Jaquet Droz, confirms the explosion of Chinese tourists buying watches when traveling to Paris and Switzerland.

Baselworld looks very good again. We are happy with orders of the novelties for Breguet with some very strong references. We had a very good quantity of orders for Tourbillons, which are complicated to make, but it is a good problem to have. The overall collection for Blancpain worked very well.

Blancpain and Jaquet Droz had growth last year (in China), and Breguet was more or less flat. But what we have seen is an explosion in Chinese tourists buying watches when traveling, particularly Paris and Switzerland. Overall the market is growing and performing well.

Blancpain Watches  Jaquet Droz  Leaders in Luxury  Montres Breguet, L'Abbaye 

In Conversation With Christopher Cowdray, CEO, Dorchester Collection
10 May 2013
Christopher Cowdray, CEO, Dorchester Collection, believes the key to an absolutely flawless, efficient stay is, and has always been, the people.

Most of our competitors are looking for rapid brand growth, looking to put hotels wherever they can put a flag, and I think that doesn’t always benefit those companies. There are destinations that don’t necessarily complement luxury hotels so we are looking to stay in key cities where we can offer the level of service, style and individuality that we demand from our hotels.

We are never going to grow fast; we are never going to have 40, 50, 60 hotels. If we achieve 20 hotels in the next ten years I will be extremely satisfied. It’s going to be very slow though, as our next target is going to be 15 hotels. We have various opportunities that we are currently looking at, and we will see where we get. I’m hoping to make an announcement this year, but finding existing hotels to which we can add our flag is not easy.

Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation With Francesco Trapani, CEO, LVMH Watch & Jewellery
10 Apr 2013
Francesco Trapani, CEO of LVMH Watch & Jewellery, explains why it is becoming progressively more & more difficult to stand out in the luxury sector.

One of the biggest news items of 2011 in the luxury industry, was the announcement that LVMH was to acquire Bulgari SpA in an all-share deal valued at €4.3 billion – the most LVMH had offered for any of its stable of prestigious brands.

At the heart of the deal was then CEO Francesco Trapani, the great grandson of Sotirio Bulgari, who founded the eponymous brand in 1884. Under Mr. Trapani’s leadership, the Bulgari brand diversified into watches, perfumes, leather goods and accessories, eventually partnering with Marriott to launch Bulgari branded hotels.

Leaders in Luxury  LVMH group 

In Conversation with Herve Humler, President, Ritz-Carlton Hotels
12 Feb 2013
Herve Humler, President & COO of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, doesn’t have employees. Instead, there are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.

“In 2012 we had a great start. We’ve got a lot of development, but it’s outside the US. Asia is booming. People talk about China slowing down, but I don’t see it. There aren’t enough rooms. Japan is back in a big way. We just opened Okinawa [featured in Elite Traveler’s 101 Top Suites 2012 list]. We have two openings in China, Langkawi [Malaysia] and a resort in Vietnam, and we’re looking at Cambodia.

“Europe is slowing but look at Spain – people want to go there on vacation and Istanbul is booming. Moscow is very strong and Berlin has really taken off. Berlin has become a leisure destination. We just opened Vienna. It’s a great location with 204 keys, a very complete hotel.”

Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation with Luc Perramond, CEO, La Montre Hermès
30 Jan 2013
Luc Perramond, CEO of La Montre Hermès, uncovers the brand’s century-old relationship with watchmaking and details his growth plans for the future.

“Our strategy in the last five years has been to progressively move towards the ‘prestigious’ segment of the watch industry. In the 1980’s and 90’s we were more positioned in the fashion or accessories segment, with very accessible price points.

“Our strategy is very much value driven, not volume driven, as is the case in general with Hermès. We look for quality, for products with added value, so we have developed more sophisticated products with mechanical movements, with complications, using double materials like rose gold. We are also developing the ‘precious’ segment, watches set with diamonds and precious stones."

Hermès  Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation with Deepa Harris, Taj Hotels & Resorts
19 Dec 2012
Deepa Harris, senior vice president of Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, reveals how the luxury hospitality brand draws on India’s rich heritage to nuture its future.

It’s an interesting time for Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, the luxury hospitality subsidiary buried within Mumbai-based Tata Group, and effectively the ‘public’ brand representing The Indian Hotels Company Limited.

Between 2011 and 2012, turnover grew by 8%, driven by an increase in average daily rooms sold, including a capacity increase of seven hotels, adding 971 rooms to the portfolio. Food and beverage sales increased by 11% driven by an increase in culinary offerings as well as a stable banqueting business.

But Taj more recently made headlines when The Indian Hotels Co. – effectively the same company – launched a $1.86 million unsolicited takeover bid for fellow luxury hotelier Orient-Express.

Leaders in Luxury 

Interview with Frank Rejwan from Abercrombie & Kent Villas
November 26, 2012
Luxury Travel Magazine interviews Frank Rejwan, Managing Director Specialist Businesses, Abercrombie & Kent about A&K Villas.

Abercrombie & Kent  Leaders in Luxury 

Interview with Post Ranch Inn's Executive Chef John Cox
September 26, 2012
Chef John Cox is the Executive Chef at Sierra Mar, Post Ranch Inn's breathtaking restaurant set high atop the cliffs at Big Sur. Sierra Mar restaurant is the winner of Wine Spectator’s prestigious Grand Award.

Leaders in Luxury  Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur 

In Conversation with Remo Ruffini, Moncler
9 Aug 2012
Remo Ruffini, chairman & creative director of The Moncler Group, explains why Moncler doesn’t want to be in the fashion business and how private equity has impacted the brand’s journey.

“I always say we have to survive fashion,” explains Remo Ruffini, chairman & creative director of The Moncler Group and the executive widely credited with elevating the down jacket brand to the global luxury player it is today. “We don’t want to be in the fashion business, we want to be consistent,” he continues. “When I start to think about product, distribution, advertising, campaigns, I really think about the roots, the DNA. When we launch a product people need to understand that it is Moncler.”

“For me it’s quite a natural philosophy to be both CEO and creative director. For me numbers are very important, margin is very important, I want to create value, but on the other hand I think product is very important. When I started in 1995, to manage my company I needed to design my own products. I have always worked towards having a balanced philosophy and strategy.”

Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation with François-Henri Pinault, PPR
31 May 2012
François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of PPR, shares his ambitions for PPR, Yves Saint Laurent and the conglomerate’s ongoing commitment to sustainable social responsibility.

Since its inception in 1963, PPR has undergone profound transformations. The building materials business, originally led by François Pinault, has grown to become a formidable force in the luxury sphere, as the owner of iconic French and Italian brands such as Yves Saint Laurent, Boucheron, Gucci and Bottega Veneta.

PPR’s foray into luxury came in 1999, when the group purchased a 42% stake of Gucci, then under the leadership of Tom Ford and Domenico de Sole. By 2004 Gucci Group, as the luxury arm was then known, purchased the afore mentioned brands, Sergio Rossi and Balenciaga, and launched partnership agreements with young British designers Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen.

Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation with Vanessa Friedman, FT Business of Luxury Summit 2012
26 Apr 2012
The Financial Times fashion editor tells Luxury Society what’s in store for the upcoming FT Business of Luxury Conference in Marrakech.

One of our priorities at Luxury Society is to bring you exclusive opportunities to engage with each other and with thought leaders from our industry and elsewhere. What better a place for our members to connect than one of the most important conferences in our calendar? The annual FT Business of Luxury Summit.

For the fourth year running, Luxury Society has partnered with this prestigious event, to bring our membership together and discuss the most pressing issues in our industry, led by some of the most influential figures in both luxury and lifestyle. As the official business network of the conference, we are delighted to announce a specially discounted rate exclusively for Luxury Society members to attend the upcoming FT in Marrakech, Morocco on May 30 – June 1.

FT Business of Luxury Summit 2011, Lausanne  FT Business of Luxury Summit 2012 Marrakech  Leaders in Luxury 

Interview with Waldorf Astoria Shanghai's General Manager
March 15, 2012
General Manager, Mr. Simeon Olle gives us his insider advice about visiting Shanghai and staying at the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund.

Leaders in Luxury  Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund, Shanghai 

In Conversation with Dr. Ulrich Bez, CEO, Aston Martin
21 Sep 2011
Dr Ulrich Bez, CEO of Aston Martin, feels that the word luxury is used too freely these days but through sacrifice of the ordinary, his beloved brand has become the epitome.

A reference to Aston Martin feels somewhat incomplete without at least one mention of James Bond. As early as 1959, author Ian Fleming prescribed his dashing 007 with a DB Mark III, for his adventures in Goldfinger. Flash forward half-a-century and not only is the DB series still Bond’s car of choice, but Aston Martin have introduced over twenty new models in just a decade, dealerships have expanded to reach forty-two countries and the Aston brand has re-invigorated its reputation in competitive motorsport.

The architect of the company’s modern era, Dr Ulrich Bez, has been widely credited with transforming the brand from a low volume, small-scale, and somewhat neglected subsidiary of Ford, to the profitable, world-renowned, independent manufacturer of high performance cars that it is today. The Doctorate of Engineering graduate joined as CEO in 2000, after time as a business adviser to Ford Motor Company and twenty years in product design and development roles at Porsche, BMW and Daewoo.

Aston Martin  Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation with Kamel Ouadi, EVP, NOWNESS
14 Sep 2011
Kamel Ouadi, global digital media director of Louis Vuitton and EVP of NOWNESS, tells us why traditional advertising models never fully answered the core objectives of the luxury market.

It has been just eighteen months since NOWNESS was launched by LVMH. The independent content platform was designed to represent a new generation of digital media and cover the full spectrum of luxury and the art of living. The purpose, as identified by creator Kamel Ouadi, was to “enable emotional engagement with users, through the development of bespoke and exclusive content”, challenging the traditional dictative relationship of advertising and attempting instead to foster conversations with luxury enthusiasts.

Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation with Robert Gaymer-Jones, CEO, Sofitel
17 Aug 2011
Sofitel’s Worldwide CEO Robert Gaymer-Jones tells us why he shuttered scores of hotels to get the brand’s positioning right and why even the Arab Spring uprising doesn’t deter his upcoming expansion plans.

It has been four years since Robert Gaymer-Jones was first ushered in as COO and charged with repositioning Sofitel into a brand with exclusively five-star hotels at the very top end of the luxury market. Most observers at the time agreed that it was a bold and daring strategy for Sofitel’s parent company, Accor Group.

Accor not only bestowed an unprecedented amount of autonomy on the new division but also on its principal brand architect, Mr. Gaymer-Jones. Beyond the development of a finely-tuned identity, there was a vast amount of hands-on work to be done. Renovations, retraining schemes, the building of sub-brands and, perhaps most painful of all, hotel closures were all on his daily agenda.

Leaders in Luxury 

5 Minutes With ... John Hunt, CEO, Wally Yachts

20 Jul 2011
John Hunt, Chairman and CEO of Wally Yachts, tells us that one of his major roles is to keep an inherently innovative organisation focused on today.

There is much more to John Hunt than his role as Chairman and CEO of Wally Yachts. The serially successful entrepreneur and venture investor has created and co-created companies, with interests as diverse as digital communications, wine production, e-commerce software, espresso bars and luxury resorts.

Starbucks acquired the UK espresso bar he co-founded, Seattle Coffee Company, in 1998 as their European launch platform. Shortly after the web agency he founded, Syzygy, went public in Germany at €200 million. His holding company, Archimedia, launched in January 2010, was a founding investor in online ventures Betfair and and in November of the launch year, committed a significant investment to the growth and development of Wally.

Leaders in Luxury 

5 Minutes With ... Bernd Beetz, CEO, Coty
6 Jul 2011
Bernd Beetz, CEO of Coty, is confident the business will continue to grow, but warns of an economic storm looming on the horizon.

As the fragrance licensee of Cerruti, Vera Wang, Chloé, Vivienne Westwood, Jil Sander and Marc Jacobs, Coty is the world’s largest fragrance company, reporting annual revenues in excess of $4 billion in 2010. The Reimann family owned conglomerate is increasingly becoming known for its strength in M&A, completing five independent deals last year alone.

Bernd Beetz began his career with Procter & Gamble, going on to lead LVMH’s revitalisation of Cosmetics and Perfume as the CEO of Parfums Christian Dior. Mr Beetz joined Coty as chief executive officer in 2001 and is largely credited with the company’s double-digit sales growth in each of the last five consecutive years and a double in profitability.

Leaders in Luxury 

Interview with Ralf Ohletz Count von Plettenberg, President Regent Hotels and Resorts
During the eighties, Regent Hotels shot to the pinnacle of the ultra-luxe segment of the hotel industry. From a dazzling flagship in Hong Kong and lobbies in New York, Beverly Hills (the Pretty Woman hotel), Singapore and Sydney, and a pipeline that included literally dozens of the most glamorous projects, multiple ownership changes and years of misdirection had left the group with a small base of top properties but in scale far behind many other younger luxury brands. With two major openings on the horizon, a new owner from the past and one of the industry’s most respected hoteliers at the helm, Regent is looking to become relevant again. Recently Elite Traveler Editor-in-Chief Douglas Gollan dined with President Ralf Ohletz Count von Plettenberg during the International Luxury Travel Mart in Cannes.
Leaders in Luxury 

5 Minutes With ... Margareth Henriquez, CEO, Krug
22 Jun 2011
Margareth Henriquez, CEO of Krug, discusses how the house will move forward in the modern market by leveraging its historical points of difference.

In a luxury world full of discussions about market share, brand expansion, and even matters of the stock market, it is refreshing to rediscover a luxury brand driven by the principle of rarity. Leading Krug into a new phase of growth is Margareth Henriquez, a woman passionate about sharing the heritage of the house and educating discerning drinkers as to Krug Champagne’s uniqueness.

To begin with, the brand has only five product lines without any form of hierarchy – pricing is dictated by quality and rarity on an individual basis. Their products are re-imagined each year, depending on the quality of the vintages, to ensure the most premium product for the time. And despite the obvious opportunities for capitalisation, Krug only produces approximately 600,000 of the 300 million bottles of Champagne made in the region per year, just 0.2% of total production in the region.

Krug Champagne  Leaders in Luxury 

5 Minutes With ... Gian Giacomo Ferraris, Versace
16 Jun 2011
Gian Giacomo Ferraris, CEO of Versace, on bringing the brand back to profitability in 2012, the upcoming Young Versace Line and engaging e-commerce.

Called to discuss the widely-discussed but rarely-understood concept of counterfeiting, at the Financial TImes Business of Luxury Summit in Lausanne, Gian Giacomo Ferraris cited the issue as a key part of shaping Versace into a €500 million business by 2015.

At the time of his appointment in 2009, Mr Ferraris admitted there were more seemingly pressing issues on the Versace table than the flocks of fakes lining Canal Street NYC. However, upon further investigating the toll counterfeiting was taking on the brand’s image, bottom line and corporate social responsibility, it became obvious that fighting counterfeit goods would become a cornerstone strategy in returning Versace to profitability.

Leaders in Luxury  Versace, Milan 

5 Minutes With ... Jean-Claude Biver, Hublot
8 Jun 2011
Jean-Claude Biver, chairman of Hublot, can’t understand why anyone would buy a watch to tell the time, but explains to us just why the emerging client is so important.

Recently closing the Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit in Lausanne, Jean-Claude Biver captivated the crowd with some much valued insights into the Hublot brand he has driven since 2003, as well as his time re-launching Blancpain with Jacques Piguet and doing the same at Omega for the Swatch group.

Illustrating the state of the current timepiece market, Biver explained that out of 100 millionaires, in the US he would sell 35-40 pieces and in China he would sell 400, highlighting just how ‘watch conscious’ the emerging consumer has become.

Hublot Watches  Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation with Jiang Qiong Er, Shang Xia's CEO & artistic director
5 Jan 2011
Jiang Qiong Er is the creative and commercial force behind the brand that could unleash a top-down revolution on Chinese consumer values.

Hermès’s pioneering move to conquer China using a two-prong brand attack was one of the most talked about business stories of 2010. But beyond the industry’s collective marvel at the foresight of the firm to bolster its export of Hermès goods into China by inventing a domestic Chinese luxury brand to boot, there is much more that the Shang Xia brand is destined to achieve besides just filling the Hermès coffers. Shang Xia’s visionary co-founder, Jiang Qiong Er, explains why…

Leaders in Luxury  Shang Xia Boutique, Shanghai 

In Conversation with Abdul Majeed Ismail Al Fahim, Chairman of Pearl Dubai
15 Dec 2010
Abdul Majeed Ismail Al Fahim is building a colossal but considerate luxury community for Dubai, with a game-changing ethos behind it.

Due to be completed in 2013, the Dubai Pearl will be anchored by a superstructure of four towers capped with a sky walk, overlooking a dozen other high-rise buildings within a green pedestrian perimeter and a panoramic view of the Palm Jumeirah island.

LS: Dubai Pearl is obviously not your ordinary mixed-use mega-development in the United Arab Emirates. Besides five star hotels, sleek office towers, penthouse apartments, retail zones, fine dining establishments and arts & entertainment venues, the 20-million square foot complex also includes elements which make it stand out as a real community — such as schools, libraries and even a hospital to serve the 9000 residents you expect to move in. But is this a ‘luxury community’?

AL FAHIM: We believe that luxury is all about convenience and comfort. A true luxury mixed use development could not be called mixed use unless it can offer all the facilities and services you would require. This spans from your very basic needs to the highest level of indulgence – Dubai Pearl will offer all of these. What also makes Dubai Pearl unique is that it combines this ultimate level of luxury with genuine sustainability thus ensuring the longevity of the project.

Leaders in Luxury 

In Conversation with Mark Edleson, President and CEO of Alila Hotels & Resorts
27 Apr 2010
Steering an Asian luxury brand roll-out from Singapore, with sustainability at its core.

BALI, Indonesia – How many ultra-luxury, five star resorts would intentionally shut their lights off in the middle of the dinner hour, plunging their guests into complete darkness?

This was my experience recently at the Alila Villas Uluwatu in Bali, part of the award-winning Alila Hotels & Resorts chain, whose destination properties have become discreet getaways for in-the-know luxury travellers with an ethical conscience and a high-level of discernment in food, culture, art and design.

Leaders in Luxury 




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