In a brief conversation with LUC Perramond, CEO, Hermes, Time 'n Style brings forth what this brand that recently made its debut in the Indian market, is all about. Hermes is focusing on men's watches now. What's the thought process behind the same?
Hermes is focusing on men's watches now. What's the thought process behind the same?
In the first three years, we wanted to balance our mix which was heavily skewered towards ladies. It was important for us to address the men's market, which we did with a number of collections in the last 3 years. The mechanical watches, in fact this year comes with our new in-house movement. We are addressing both markets - men's and ladies'. Six years ago, we wanted to develop a calibre which could be transformed into two movements - one that could become a men's movement and one for the ladies.
What's the synchrony of Hermes watches with the rest of the brand's products?
There are a lot of synergies. The materials we use very often come from other categories. Also, we exchange ideas; the creative directors of all the categories meet and exchange ideas. We speak to our colleagues from fashion and accessories, whether it's about the colours of the season, some new material for the bags, we try and use that on the watches. Many of our dial designs come from our silk scarves or ties. We work together and we come from one House.
Hermes is known for its leather and fashion. What are the challenges you face in terms of the watch division?
The challenge was to make the watch category get recognised at the same level as our other categories. It's true that there was a gap in perception in the past, but we are closing the gap. We are making watches of quality and creativity. Our mission is to make the watch division a growth driver for the future of Hermes. It's challenging and stimulating and if you focus on quality and creativity, you can come up with collections that have the same appeal as the rest of the products from the House.
How has the Asian market been for the brand?
It has been great. Historically, Asia has always been important for us because of Japan. More recently, it's Greater China. Now we see more and more developments in South East Asia; not only Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, but Indonesia is also a huge market for luxury. In India, we have three Hermes boutiques, with the latest addition in Mumbai. In Mumbai, we wanted to have a presence of the House and we did not want to go into a hotel or luxury mall. Now we've entered into a partnership with Ethos.
How has the Indian market been so far?
We just started. The initial response is promising, but we haven't yet communicated much about our watches. We really need to start doing that. We wanted to wait till we had a network. So in October, we will be doing a major launch.
How has 2011 been for the brand?
It was excellent for the watch business. Our business grew by 23 per cent, which was better than the over-all Hermes growth which was 18 per cent. This year, we will continue to grow in Asia and America, though we are a bit concerned about Europe.
How do you bridge the gap between the connoisseur's market of the West vs. the aspirer's market in Asia and emerging markets?
They are different groups of people. But at the same time, they are interested in the same thing which is beautiful objects and heritage they can trust. So they are all looking at universal values. People buy timepieces for various reasons; some buy for the craftsmanship that has gone into it; some buy to communicate who they are or as status symbol. But the way we deal with it is not by doing local products for local customers. Hermes makes beautiful objects and they are the same all over the world. What's important is to communicate differently in the different markets.
Define an end-consumer of Hermes.
They are diverse-- men and women. In the emerging markets, the age group is younger. In Greater China, they are young entrepreneurs, mostly male and they are between 25-35 years. The consumers tend to be older in Europe. They all look for the same values. They want to be reassured and want to have access to beautiful objects and they trust the brand.
What does the brand mean to you?
What I appreciate most is the humanist structure of the Group. It's about people first. Ten thousand people work for the Group. We focus on long-term strategies. The sixth generation is worried about how they can pass it on to the seventh generation in the next 20 years. They are worried about keeping this magical spirit of Hermes intact - that of exclusivity, refinement, quality, remaining singular and special.
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