Pierre Denis, CEO of Jimmy Choo – an exclusive interview

CPP-LUXURY.COM has recently interviewed, exclusively, Mr Pierre Denis, CEO of Jimmy Choo (Labelux Group). Pierre Denis was appointed Chief Executive Officer at JIMMY CHOO in July 2012 and the creative direction is overseen by Sandra Choi. Together, they share a vision to create one of the world’s most treasured luxury brands. Part of Labelux GmbH, a privately held luxury goods group, Jimmy Choo has more than 150 stores in 32 countries and is present in the most prestigious department and specialty stores worldwide.

To what extent your brand relates to luxury lifestyle? What is your view on diversification? And which product categories who consider damaging for a luxury brand, in the long term.

Jimmy Choo is an iconic luxury fashion. We offer product across shoes, handbags, small leather goods, eyewear and fragrance. Shoes are the core of our business and brand and always will be but there is a demand from our customers for more ways to wear and experience Jimmy Choo. The diversification of our product categories has been an organic one, each element feels right and allows us to deliver more to existing customers whilst introducing Jimmy Choo to a new, younger audience via fragrance and eyewear.

Product extensions have to be carefully considered, they need to make sense commercially but most importantly, they need to be true to the brand.

Which are your most successful markets worldwide? Is there one particular market that has registered spectacular growth in the past 3 years?

America remains the largest market globally for Jimmy Choo, with a department store and retail presence. We are experiencing strong like for like growth in Europe, as well as our other main markets. That said our biggest growth opportunity is in Asia where we have a plan to achieve a presence commensurate with that in the West over time. It is also worth highlighting Japan which is really one of our biggest success stories registering one of our highest growths in the world. And, of course, our ecommerce business has been the fastest growing channel for us during the past few years.

What is your view on mono-brand versus wholesale? What is your long term strategic approach in this respect?

Strategic wholesale partnerships can be excellent tools to reach a new audience and position the brand as well as deliver commercially whilst complementing existing stores. In the US, for example, Jimmy Choo enjoys a strong wholesale presence and complements a successful retail store network. Having said that, our Jimmy Choo retail stores offer the most comprehensive brand experience for our clients.

Many luxury fashion or accessories brand rely on a creative director or founder/owner to push lifestyle awareness. What is your take on this, especially since the departure of the Jimmy Choo founder?

We are very fortunate to have our creative director, Sandra Choi at the helm of the business now. Sandra has been with the business since its inception, she has been quietly shaping the creative direction ever since and was appointed sole creative director at the beginning of the year. She has lived and breathed Jimmy Choo all her working life and has such energy and passion for the brand; there is nobody better qualified for the role. I think it is vital to have a personality for people to identify and associate with a brand but also essential that the brand always has preeminence.

You recently announced a new strategy for China. Tell us more.

Unlike many other luxury brands who have enjoyed strong performance as a result of business growth in China, Jimmy Choo’s business there is really just beginning; we see China as a great opportunity for our future growth but at this point, it really is a nascent business. At the end of last year we took direct control of our business from our distribution partner. Having control in the market allows us to further develop the brand and our business whilst becoming closer to our customers in the region. We have several new stores slated to open in the coming months in China.

How different are the Jimmy Choo male consumers versus ladies consumers?

There are differences and similarities – they both have a desire for a high fashion product but also an appreciation of luxury and quality, and the Jimmy Choo brand certainly attracts customers with a confident sense of style, be they women or men. Men are becoming more fashion conscious whilst remaining very interested in the craftsmanship and a high level of sophistication. Our women’s customer is more established but both are diverse in their demographic encompassing a broad range of ages and nationalities.

What is your view on social media / digital advertising versus advertising in print, especially glossy magazines?

I believe digital and print channels to be equally as effective and important but they serve different objectives. Campaigns need to be more strategic and multi- tiered than ever before to be bespoke to both the channel and the audience they address. One strong message but presented in different formats.

Have you considered creating a collaboration with a luxury brand from another sector? i.e. luxury cars, high-end watches etc. Such artistic ‘’dialogues’’ have been proven instrumental in managing long term reputation and desirability?

This isn’t something we are currently considering. But given the success of our past collaborations, we know that this format can be an interesting way to reach a new customer.

What do you think luxury brands should do to determine Chinese and Russians to buy locally?

The development of customer awareness in terms of fashion is naturally driving Chinese and Russians to buy locally. There’s a new, more sophisticated customer who doesn’t want to wait to buy the latest fashions; they want to have them as soon as they arrive in-store.  We strive to deliver an exceptional level of customer service and build strong personal relationships with our clientele to insure that they are motivated to return to their local store.

Jimmy Choo, Spring Summer 2013 ad campaign