- The new Hiver Impérial collection is dedicated to Russia. As I understand it, the idea came from creative director Claire Chuan. How did you react to this proposal?
- We discussed not just the topic of Russia, but Russia in winter. That is, we immediately talked about a collection in a cold scale, where there will be a lot of white, a lot of diamonds. I liked it, but besides, Russia is significant for the history of Boucheron. Many important clients of the house lived there, including Emperor Nicholas II. Russian clients are still very important to us, this is a large market. It should also not be forgotten that Frederic Boucheron opened his first boutique outside France in Moscow. After that there was also a boutique in St. Petersburg.
- Now you have ceased cooperation with Chronolux and are entering the market directly, opening a new flagship in Moscow in November. What does this give you in the first place and what do you want to change in the perception of the brand by the market?
- For me, the main advantage is that we can open a boutique in our new retail concept and really tell who we are. The assortment will differ from what was in Moscow before, the sellers will be our direct employees. With no external partner it is impossible to ensure that the brand is presented as when you enter the market directly.
- As I understand it, part of the new collection will go to the Moscow boutique for the opening. Are you planning to create any special jewelry within or outside this collection for the opening?
- Part of Hiver Impérial will indeed go to Moscow. We are not planning anything special. And the point here is primarily in the production capabilities of our studio. We are already planning a big event in Moscow - the opening of a boutique, that's enough. We have now made a special series of brooches within the Hiver Impérial for the Japanese market. And after the studio has already switched to creating the 2018 collection.
© Boucheron Press Service
- Why exactly for Japanese?
- This is an important market for us, where we have been present since 1973, where we have 20 boutiques and where, unfortunately, a somewhat distorted perception of the brand has developed. Boucheron is perceived there primarily as a brand of wedding and engagement rings! And this is a huge strategic problem that I pointed out as soon as I joined the company. It is normal that brand perception may differ from country to country, but not that much. We are trying to develop the haute joaillerie direction there. Brooches were chosen because the Japanese love such jewelry. In general, with my arrival in the brand, we decided to slightly change the strategy and focus more on haute joaillerie. At the same time, in the same Japan, it is important for us, promoting high jewelry art, not to lose the wedding ring market.
- Besides Japan, what are your key markets?
- Today or tomorrow?
- Both today and tomorrow!
- Today it is definitely a European market, in second place is Japan, but many Japanese buy in Europe, therefore, in general, this market can be considered as number one. But as for "tomorrow" … We plan to develop on a large scale in Asia, because now we are practically not represented on the market of mainland China, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan, although in some places we have retailers.
Subordinates tell me that for the first time they are working with a CEO who understands everything at once
- How is the story of the Paris Biennale of Antiquaries developing? Planning to come back?
- We are negotiating with the new team of the 2018 Biennale. It depends on whether they can agree with all the major brands, because if one key player decides not to return, then it makes no sense to renew cooperation.
- Starting this year, you decided to stop participating in Baselworld, why?
- This is one of the first decisions that I made as head of the company. The exhibition is great, but it is for other brands. This is a great platform for watch brands, for those who create complex watches, mens watches, but not for us. We are primarily jewelers. Watches are a very small percentage of our business, I can't say that we even have separate watch retailers. And the obvious question is: what should we do there? Introduce new dial options for existing models? This does not mean that we are shortening the hour line, we are keeping it. We will continue to produce the same watches with Girard-Perregaux movements in the same small volume.
- What are the main events planned for the upcoming 160th anniversary of the brand?
- The plan has not yet been approved, but it will be several events around the world, including exhibitions open to the public, which will be the first time in modern history for us. Their focus will not only be on history, but, most importantly, on the innovation of Boucheron. In addition, there will be several events with a haute joaillerie. Well, one of the main events is the gala opening of our boutique on Place Vendome after restoration.
© Boucheron Press Service
Does your experience at Cartier help you a lot now?
- Colossal! Everyday! I know the market very well and thanks to this experience I am versed in completely different areas, marketing and sales are very familiar to me. All areas, except, perhaps, financial accounting. But I love numbers so much that finance is easy for me. My subordinates tell me that for the first time they are working with a CEO who understands everything at once! They say: “You are the worst CEO in the world! You know everything about everything! So 17 years at Cartier were not in vain.
- Is the scale of business in relation to Cartier completely different?
- This is a completely different scale, but huge potential. When I came to Boucheron, I was amazed that the brand has all the ingredients for success, but no one just did many things. At the same time, you need to understand that I came to Cartier when the company was much smaller, I knew by sight and by the names of all my colleagues, and then the business began to grow. You, being inside, do not notice this, but at some point - and I was already a top manager then - you realize that you do not know who is sitting to your left and right at a meeting, and more recently, it would seem, you knew by the name of everyone passing in the hallway!
- What was the first thing you decided to do at Boucheron?
- Expanding geography, shifting the focus to haute joaillerie, and if we talk about communication, this is primarily digitalization. When I came to the company, I asked what percentage of investments in media went to digital. Do you know how much? Zero!
- I suppose you visited the archives in your early days at Boucheron, what impressed you the most?
- That they are huge! Of course, we mostly have documents and sketches, few items in the historical collection, but now we are actively working on this. This year, for example, we bought some historical jewelry for her.>