Hermès on Track

March 11, 2019


For luxury brands it has been an exciting, evolving, and challenging transition period. The current business environment requires organizations to take “cross-discipline inventory”on their strengths and opportunities to improve given the broad range of conditions in play at this time. Some well-reported trends indicate that customers have more choices to shop than ever, online sales are expected to double by 2025, global competition has accelerated, and the shopping behaviors of younger consumers are highly variable, just to name a few.

So, with this environment in mind for 2019, there are several important internal priorities for brands whether they are emerging or over one hundred years old. There is a need to develop a clear set of objectives and corresponding strategy as well as a dedicated commitment to achieving results. Strengthening the culture throughout the organization and dedicating resources for the teams at HQ and in the field to provide an outstanding customer experience is critical.

In addition, ensuring the creative vision is clear, uncompromising, and provides a basis for a story distinctly well expressed through the product/services offered must be in place. This includes executing an effective omnichannel investment and development plan to engage customers and foster growth across all platforms to remain competitive. All must achieve the right balance of retail store locations, wholesale distribution (if applicable) and online presence, and return on investment in key categories, i.e., sales, customer experience, marketing, etc.

As an executive with considerable experience in the luxury fashion mono-and multi-brand arenas, I have a unique perspective and understanding of what is required in the core business disciplines for success. There are a broad range of international fine luxury brands out there, many doing an exceptional job. One brand that stands out on my A-list is Hermès.

Thierry Hermès came to Paris in 1837 and founded the artisan house that has remained true to their exceptional craftsmanship ever since. With a beginning in equestrian leather, their work grew to include fine workmanship in multiple categories, including silk scarves, accessories, men’s/women’s apparel, jewelry, perfumes, and home furnishings. Throughout their journey, they remained true to who they were yet clear on their path to growth ($6.8billion in sales). A third of the Hermès team are artisans, close to 4,500 people. Led by CEO Axel Dumas, a sixth-generation family member, the brand operates over 300 store locations, a rich online presence/website, and carefully curated wholesale distribution.

Hermès was described in a recent New York Times Style Magazine article as “politely contemptuous of glitz,” and in this way they stand apart from their contemporaries in the fast-paced world of fashion. It is an important aspect of how they speak about design to the next generation of customers, underlining their distinct identity. In the effort to build these new relationships, the brand has embarked on a careful, creative approach to their presence in a variety of formats. Carefully staged events, exhibitions, and socially responsible missions have all been met with success. “The digital world, says Dumas, ‘creates the illusion that everything is closer when in fact the important things are getting farther away.’”Each year Hermès creates a theme for its artisans in which to create. Last year it was “Let’s Play!”; this year, “In the Pursuit of Hermès Dreams.”(“Hermès’s Refusal to Change Is Its Most Radical Gesture Yet,” The New York Times Style Magazine, 2/15/19.)

“Hermes (Roman name: Mercury) was the ancient Greek god of trade, wealth, luck, fertility, animal husbandry, sleep, language, thieves, and travel. One of the cleverest and most mischievous of the Olympian gods, he was also their herald and messenger.” (“Hermes,” Ancient History Encyclopedia, 6/24/12.) Many of these characteristics of the ancient god ring true for the brand today. Hermès is well positioned to continue to remain authentic to who they are, nurture their artisans, create beautiful works, and share their story as they grow relationships in the global community.

■ Hermès’s Refusal to Change Is Its Most Radical Gesture Yet

■ https://www.hermes.com/us/en/

■ https://www.ancient.eu/Hermes/

About the contributor
Tim Ceci

Tim Ceci has served a wide variety of retail brands in executive leadership roles in the United States and abroad.

Tim builds solid organizational foundations and vibrant work environments that maximize the customer experience and potential for growth. His expansive knowledge of key retail categories (monobrand/multibrand, luxury/contemporary, hardline/softline, full-price/off-price, for- profit/nonprofit) and diverse formats (multistore, flagship, freestanding, concession, pop-up, warehouse sale events) stems from working with iconic brands such as Nordstrom, Celine, Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, National Graphic, Nike, Gap International, and Pier 1 Imports.

Tim’s mission is to support organizations that are new to the marketplace, in need of help with their brand identity, or seeking fresh ideas in order to advance to the next level of growth in the evolving omni-channel landscape. As corporate executive, partner, team leader, or consultant, he uses a 360-degree approach to achieve strategic objectives and leverage the core disciplines of finance, merchandising, operations, marketing, visual presentation, and customer service to drive results.

Tim is well respected in the industry as a mission-focused leader possessing the high degree of emotional intelligence necessary to develop complex global businesses. He is a connector of people and ideas, sharing his experience and expertise as an adjunct professor at LIM College; a board member at Brooklyn Fashion Incubator, Oumlil, and Yacker Talent; an advisor to Qvalon (New York) and Retail Hive (London); and a volunteer at Riverside Park Conservancy (New York) and Beacon for Change (South

Tim has a BA in Business Administration and Marketing from Hofstra University, is an avid marathon runner, and resides in New York City.


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