Louis Vuitton's Chief Talks Luxury in India
Yves Carcelle. Image courtesy: BCCL
He heads one of the biggest luxury goods companies in the world. But Yves Carcelle is still a hands-on CEO, checking out the decor of the store, and architecture of the building and greeting guests with warmth at the launch of Louis Vuitton's first store in Chennai.
"We succeed in business because we operate all our stores ourselves," said Carcelle, chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton (LV), who was at the opening of the brand's fifth store in India on Thursday. "We have been looking at Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad for many years. We open when we see possibility of retail environment," said Carcelle, whose team has been working on the new store for the past four years. The interiors are slick, with LV's trademark travel bags occupying pride of place along neatly arrayed bags, wallets, scarves and accessories.
Even as other big brands hesitate to expand during the ongoing economic downturn, LV is not fazed. The company, which was established in 1854, is on an expansion spree, having recently launched stores in Paris and Shanghai.
"We never build strategy based on short term considerations; luxury is something to be developed in the long term," said 64-year-old Carcelle, who has been heading LV for 20 years. "We began working on our first store in India 10 years before we launched it in New Delhi in 2003."
While the sheer population of India may be overwhelming to many, it is this fact that has made it an important market for LV. "It is important to be leader of this market and I took that decision 20 years ago," said Carcelle. "India will be a key market. In the next three to five years, the number of malls will increase."
LV and India's Century-Old Link
LV's link with India goes back well over a century when the Maharajas of Jammu and Kashmir, Bikaner and Baroda ordered trunks from the company. And Carcelle sees a growing market for luxury goods in India. In the beginning people are attracted by social status of luxury but quickly they become connoisseurs and can judge the beauty and finish of a product, he said. "You buy the first car to move, 30 years later buy it because you like the sound of the motor of a Ferrari."
While people often pick up luxury goods during travels abroad, the growth of new media has changed trends. "The whole world receives the same information at the same second," he said. "So they may not wait for six months to pick up a new bag."
Carcelle also announced a three-year partnership with DakshinaChitra, a project of the Madras Craft Foundation. LV will support talented, underprivileged students so that they can pursue a postgraduate diploma in arts management. The one-year course will train people to manage the growing number of cultural institutions and museums, said Deborah Thiagarajan, president, Madras Craft Foundation.
"It is important to train young children to preserve culture. We feel we are modern as a company as we respect the past and the culture," said Carcelle.
Author: Priya M Menon
Source: The Economic Times
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