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RESTLESS PURSUER OF LUXURY'S FUTURE

2008-07-05
RESTLESS PURSUER OF LUXURY'S FUTURE
克里斯汀•迪奥掌门人
RESTLESS PURSUER OF LUXURY'S FUTURE
By Vanessa Friedman
Friday, July 04, 2008
As he takes his front row seat at the Christian Dior couture show this afternoon, Dior's chief executive, Sidney Toledano, may be hoping he does not get a repeat of his experience following the last show.

That was in May at the Dior Cruise event in New York. It had started out well enough: after a well-received show, Mr Toledano went out with the Dior crowd to the nightclub, Le Baron, to celebrate. He got back at about 1:30am, only to be woken up an hour and a half later by a phone call from Paris telling him about the earthquakes in Sichuan.

This was a big deal for Dior, which like many luxury brands sees China as a future engine of growth. It has 11 stores there, with four more planned for this year. So Mr Toledano got out of bed and went to work. He was concerned, first for the people involved in the disaster, then for his business.

"Every day you hear about something that has gone wrong somewhere in the world," he says. "There's a bomb or some huge write-off at a bank. You just have to get through it. It's like when you're on a plane and there's turbulence, and you sometimes think: 'why doesn't the pilot just change the flight path?' Well, he can't, of course. You just have to continue on course."

Mr Toledano, 56, has been at Dior for 14 years, 10 of them as chief executive. He has been through a good deal of turbulence during his tenure, including 9/11 and Sars.

In fact, just after the Sichuan earthquakes, he ran into some more: the suggestion by Dior's "face", Sharon Stone, that the natural disaster was karmic retribution for Chinese actions in Tibet. This is not the sort of comment a luxury brand chief executive looking to sell products in a new market needs. Still, they talked, Ms Stone issued an apology, and Dior dropped her from its advertisements in China - but not the rest of the world.

As a compromise, it was quintessential Toledano, and speaks to the reasons he is one of the longest-serving CEOs in the luxury industry. As the industry goes global, the art of balance - between the demands of shareholders and the values of a historic label, the need for exclusivity and the need for expansion - has become ever more important, and Mr Toledano is widely regarded as a master.

He routinely navigates, for example, between his famously undemonstrative but demanding boss, Bernard Arnault, main shareholder of Christian Dior, and a number of mercurial creative types, including Dior's women's wear designer John Galliano (famous for donning pirate and astronaut costumes at the end of his fashion shows) and jewellery designer Victoire de Castellane (who has a tendency to wear Mickey Mouse ears). He exudes both competence and self-contained charisma, and has been called a "rock star" by one PR executive who used to work with him. This refers more to his magnetism as a manager than any habit of making noise or demolishing hotel rooms - although he does like to go on tour.

"The best advice I ever got was that, when times are bad, you need to get out of the office; when things are good, you can spend time on the organisation," says Mr Toledano, who, despite being married with three children, travels almost every week to one of Dior's 224 stores round the world. "You have to walk the streets, look for newness, look for what is happening next. Forget the calculator. Understand the people in different countries and what they want."

It was by spending time in China in the 1980s, for example, when he worked at the French leather goods house Lancel, that Mr Toledano says he first realised China would one day be prime territory for luxury.

"I met some factory owners and they were working so hard, but then they would bring you to a restaurant and it was clear they wanted to enjoy life," he says. "And I thought: one day these people are going to have money and they are going to spend it." In 1994, the year he joined Dior, the brand opened its first store in the basement of the Peninsula Hotel in Beijing.

Born in Casablanca to a Turkish mother and a father in the paper industry, Mr Toledano acquired his wanderlust at a young age. "We used to go all over Europe in the summer because Morocco was so hot," he says. "One July we crossed Spain, France and Switzerland. For me, France was the new frontier."

He conquered it at 18 when he began a degree in applied mathematics at the école Centrale in Paris. After graduation, he got a job as a marketing consultant doing forecasting at AC Nielsen, working with companies such as Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola, but, he says: "I was playing with all these numbers and, after a while, I started wondering what was behind them."

This led to a job with an acquaintance who had a shoe factory, which took him to the French leather goods company Lancel, where he became managing director and "fell in love with leather". A few years later, Bernard Arnault came calling. The interview took 15 minutes.

"He knew exactly what he wanted," says Mr Toledano: to take a small couture house he had bought out of bankruptcy and build it into the biggest luxury group in the world. In the decade and a half since Mr Toledano has been complicit in this plan, Mr Arnault has used Dior to create LVMH (Mo?t Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world's largest luxury group, which is in fact owned by Dior - convoluted but true). Christian Dior has gone from 127m in sales in 1994 to 787m (£624m) in 2007. (The sales figure does not include Christian Dior Parfum, which is owned by LVMH, but estimates of the Diors together put the business at about 2bn.)

Just as significantly, the number of licences has been reduced from 70 per cent to almost nil as Dior bought back control of its products and image to create a vertically integrated company. And in spite of fears of a recession in the US and Europe, Mr Toledano is convinced there are more good times, and profits, to come.

"Christian Dior can double in five years," he says. "There may be difficult times coming but, if you look at the Middle East, China, even Europe, I believe there is growth coming, and we have to develop our network and perfect our supply chain."

The next wave of luxury buyers is now in new territories: the Middle East, Russia, Hong Kong, South Korea, and the industry has moved too. This has been criticised by its old European power base, but Mr Toledano dismisses such carping. He believes not only that a brand should go to its customers but that it should anticipate their needs and invest early in markets that may not show real growth for up to six years. It is an unusual statement from the head of a listed company.

"When we first went to Moscow, I remember walking down a street, and it was snowing, and it looked like a little old village," he says. "Everyone said, 'what are you doing opening there?' Today that street looks like Paris."

In fact, Russia has become so important to luxury brands that one of the more popular critical slights is to say of a collection that it "looks as if it is aimed at the Russian market", meaning it is too ostentatious.

This has been said of Dior in the past but, says Mr Toledano: "I'm not interested in the kind of people who only want the egotistical thrill of being alone in having something. I'm interested in people who are ready to pay a lot of money for very high quality things because they are beautiful."

Ready-to-wear is key to keeping customer loyalty in the bag

"We are not an accessory company," says Sidney Toledano. Though Dior will this week unveil two ready-to-wear collections, this is still a surprising declaration given the importance of the handbag to the fashion business.

Profit margins on bags are among the highest in the industry. Mr Toledano's first great success at Dior was the Lady Dior bag. The Dior saddle bag designed by John Galliano has attained "It" status, and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (pictured above) was much photographed toting Dior "Babe" bags on a state visit to Israel.

The space needed to sell bags is significantly less than that needed to sell clothing. Mr Toledano estimates more than 1,000 sq m is necessary for ready-to-wear, whereas bags need less than half that. In a time of real estate upheaval, this matters. Yet Mr Toledano insists that bags, shoes, sunglasses and so on should account for no more than 20-30 per cent of Dior sales. The reason? "Loyalty," he says. "Ready-to-wear is how you build customer loyalty."

A woman will come in, he says, spend time trying on clothes, talk to the sales people, perhaps sit in the VIP room, and end up with a personal relationship to a brand that she will never develop if she just dashes in for a quick handbag fix. Besides, he says, "you can always present some accessories while she is trying on her dress".

作者:英国《金融时报》范妮莎•弗瑞德曼(Vanessa Friedman)
2008年7月4日 星期五

最近的一个下午,当克里斯汀•迪奥(Christian Dior)首席执行官西德尼•托莱达诺(Sidney Toledano)在迪奥时装秀的前排就坐时,或许他心中想的是:不要再出现上次时装秀之后的经历。

那是在5月份纽约的Dior Cruise发布会。开始都很顺利:在受欢迎的时装秀结束后,托莱达诺和迪奥的一群人去了Le Baron夜总会庆祝。他大约凌晨一点半回到家,仅仅睡了一个半小时就被巴黎的电话吵醒,从电话中得知了四川地震的消息。

这对迪奥是件大事——像许多奢侈品牌一样,迪奥把中国视作未来的增长引擎。它在中国拥有11家店面,今年计划再开4家。于是,托莱达诺起床开始工作。他很是担心,首先为那些受灾的人,然后是他的生意。

他说:“每天你都会听说世界上某个地方出了什么问题。哪儿有一颗炸弹,或是哪家银行出现了巨额减记。你只能挺过去。就像你坐飞机时遇到了气流,有时候你会想:‘为什么那个飞行员不改变飞行路线呢?'当然,他不能。你只能按原定的路线继续前行。”

现年56岁的托莱达诺已在迪奥待了14年,其中10年是担任首席执行官。他在任期内经历过许多动荡,包括9/11恐怖袭击和非典(Sars)。

事实上,四川地震刚刚发生,他就遇到了另一场麻烦:迪奥形象代言人莎朗•斯通(Sharon Stone)暗示,这场自然灾害是中国政府在西藏行为的因果报应。这可不是一位想在新市场出售产品的奢侈品牌首席执行官所需要的言论。尽管如此,他们还是进行了讨论,莎朗•斯通发表了道歉声明,迪奥把她从中国的广告中撤了下来——但在世界其它地方却没有。

这种折衷的做法,是典型的托莱达诺,这也解释了为什么他能成为奢侈品行业任期最长的首席执行官之一。随着奢侈品行业的全球化,在股东需求和历史品牌价值之间、在排他性需求和扩张需求之间寻求平衡的艺术,已经变得前所未有地重要,而托莱达诺被普遍视为这方面的大师。

例如,他经常周旋在迪奥主要股东、以含蓄著称却要求苛刻的老板伯纳德•阿尔诺(Bernard Arnault)与许多机智的创新人才之间,其中包括以在时装秀结束时穿海盗服和宇航服出场而闻名的迪奥女装设计师约翰•加利亚诺(John Galliano),以及喜欢戴米老鼠(Mickey Mouse)耳朵的珠宝设计师维克多•卡斯特兰(Victoire de Castellane)。托莱达诺散发出能力与自制力的双重魅力,一位曾与他共事的公关高管把他称为“摇滚明星”。这更多地是指他拥有经理人的吸引力,而不是说他习惯于制造噪音或毁坏旅馆房间——尽管他确实喜欢出去旅游。

托莱达诺表示:“我得到过的最好建议是,当情况糟糕时,你需要走出办公室;当情况良好时,你可以把时间花在组织上。”尽管已经结婚,有3个孩子,但托莱达诺几乎每周都要去迪奥在全球的224家分店中的一家考察。“你必须到街上走走,寻找新事物,把握新趋势。不要管什么计算器。要了解不同国家的人和他们的需要。”

例如,托莱达诺表示,正是因为上世纪80年代在法国皮具公司兰姿(Lancel)工作时,他花时间对中国进行了一番考察,他才首次意识到,中国有一天将会成为奢侈品的主要领土。

他说:“我遇到一些工厂主,他们工作非常努力,但之后会带你去餐馆,很明显,他们想要享受生活。当时我就想,有一天这些人会变成有钱人,而且会把钱花出去。”在他加入迪奥的1994年,该品牌在北京半岛酒店(Peninsula Hotels)的地下楼层开设了首家分店。

托莱达诺出生于卡萨布兰卡,母亲是土耳其人,父亲在造纸业工作。托莱达诺年轻时就染上了“旅游癖”。“我们过去常常在夏天去欧洲各处旅游,因为摩洛哥太热了,”他表示。“有一年7月,我们去了西班牙、法国和瑞士。对我来说,法国就是新领域。”

他18岁时征服了这个领域,前往巴黎中央理工学院(école Centrale)开始攻读应用数学学位。毕业后,他找到一份营销顾问的工作,在AC尼尔森(AC Nielsen)做市场预测,与宝洁(P&G)和可口可乐(Coca-Cola)等公司合作。但他表示:“我一直摆弄那些数字,一段时间之后,我开始想知道数字背后是什么。”

于是,他去了一个拥有鞋厂的熟人那里工作,借此进入法国皮具公司兰姿。在兰姿,托莱达诺当上了董事总经理,并“爱上了皮革”。几年后,伯纳德•阿尔诺打来电话。面试只花了15分钟。

托莱达诺称:“他确切知道自己想要什么”——将自己收购的一家濒于破产的小型时装公司打造成世界最大的奢侈品集团。在托莱达诺加入这个计划后的15年里,阿尔诺利用迪奥创建了LVMH集团(酩悦-轩尼诗-路易威登(Mo?t Hennessy Louis Vuitton),世界最大的奢侈品集团,实际为迪奥所有——有些复杂但属实)。克里斯汀•迪奥的销售额从1994年的1.27亿欧元上升至2007年的7.87亿欧元。(销售数据不包括为LVMH集团所有的克里斯汀•迪奥香水,但迪奥整体业务的估值约为20亿欧元。)

同样重要的是,随着迪奥买回对其产品及形象的控制权,以打造一家纵向综合企业,许可数量已从70%降到几乎为零。此外,虽然对欧美经济衰退感到忧虑,但托莱达诺坚信,将来还会有更多繁荣时期和更多的利润。

“克里斯汀•迪奥在5年内能增长一倍,”他表示。“也许前面会有困难时期,但如果着眼于中东、中国、甚至欧洲,我相信将来会出现增长,因此我们必须发展网络,完善供应链。”

下一波奢侈品买家如今处在新的区域:中东、俄罗斯、香港和韩国;而奢侈品产业也出现了转移。这受到老牌欧洲动力基地的责难,但托莱达诺对这些抱怨不以为然。他相信,一个品牌不仅应迎合消费者,还应预见到消费者的需求,及早投资于在未来6年可能都没有实际增长的市场。对于一家上市公司的主管来说,这是种不同寻常的观点。

“我们第一次去莫斯科时,我记得走在一条街上,天下着雪,那里就像个古老的小村庄,”他说道。“所有人都说,‘你干嘛在这儿开店?'今天,那条街看上去像巴黎。”

事实上,俄罗斯对奢侈品牌已变得如此重要,人们在批评某个系列产品时,比较流行的轻蔑说法之一是,“就好像它是针对俄罗斯市场的”,意思是过于招摇。

过去也有人这么评价迪奥,但托莱达诺表示:“有些人只想得到独有某物的自我陶醉感,我对这种人没兴趣。我感兴趣的是那些因为美丽而愿意花大价钱购买非常高品质产品的人。”

成衣是确保消费者忠诚度的关键

“我们不是配饰公司,”西德尼•托莱达诺称。虽然迪奥即将发布两个成衣系列,但考虑到手袋对于时尚界的重要性,这个宣言依然令人惊讶。

皮包是时尚业中利润率最高的产品之一。托莱达诺在迪奥取得的首次巨大成功就是Lady Dior包。由约翰•加利亚诺设计的迪奥马鞍包(saddle bag)已经赢得It(就是它)的地位,而卡拉•布鲁尼-萨科奇(Carla Bruni-Sarkozy)提着迪奥“Babe”包对以色列进行国事访问也谋杀了不少菲林。

销售皮包所需的空间远远小于销售服装。托莱达诺估计,成衣销售需要超过1000平方米的空间,而皮包需要的空间只有不到一半。在房地产动荡时期,这一点很重要。然而托莱达诺坚持,皮包、鞋和太阳镜等产品在迪奥总销售中所占的比例不应超过20%至30%。原因?“忠诚度,”他表示。“成衣才是培养消费者忠诚度的途径。”

他表示,一位女性走进店铺,试衣服,与销售人员交谈,或是坐在贵宾室里,最终她能与这个品牌建立一种个人关系;如果她只是冲进来匆匆买个手袋解决问题,是永远无法建立这种关系的。除此之外,他表示:“在她试衣服的时候,你总是可以向她展示一些配饰的。”

译者/董琴、管婧

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