A CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT, HE HAS ENGAGED SEVERAL SUCCESSFUL CAREERS WITHIN HIS 27-YEAR STINT AT THE LEADING LUXURY MAISON. SAFE TO SAY, LOYALTY RATES ON HIS AGENDA.
TERTIARY EDUCATION WAS ALWAYS AN OBJECTIVE.
I grew up in a family that had no money and it was an issue. Having a good education was the way I saw myself avoiding that same position. So I did a bachelor of economics at Sydney University.
I WENT STRAIGHT TO KPMG, or Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co as it was then, in the audit division. I qualifed as a chartered accountant and had almost 10 years there.
I’VE HAD THREE JOBS IN MY TIME WITH LOUIS
VUITTON. I started off in fnance in Australia, ended up as the CFO for the fashion group division in the United States, and then came back to Australia [in 2003] into the role I have now.
LIFE IS ABOUT BEING PREPARED. If I’m given an assignment today, I’ll go home and start it tonight. I’m not a last-minute person – I like to start early, get it done and avoid any mad rush at the end.
QUALITY, SERVICE, PRODUCT AND BRAND HAVE BECOME MORE IMPORTANT THAN JUST
HAVING ‘STUFF’. The GFC and what followed sharpened the perspective on what was important, and people have [since] shopped more economically for basics. Though when it comes to staples, they go straight to the top and would rather have less.
I’VE NEVER WORKED ON THE ASSUMPTION I HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS, OR EVEN ANY OF
THEM. I try to interact and ask questions of people who I know have good knowledge and experience in different areas. I bounce stuff all the time, with the team in the offce and people I respect.
NOTHING WE DO IS LIFE-THREATENING, SO LET’S JUST GET OVER ANY ISSUES AND GET ON WITH IT. I really believe in the team and that people
need to be moving ahead at the same pace, with no surprises – the sooner it’s out there, the sooner we can work towards a solution.
PEOPLE BUY LV FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS, BUT
THEY COME BACK FOR THE SAME REASON. And that is the quality. To have and to hold a piece is one thing, but to understand what sits behind it and the craftsmanship and the history and the stories in relation to the product, and what will work best for you – well, that’s what we like to think our teams impart in store.
AS A BUSINESS, LV DOESN’T PLAY BY THE RULES.
We never go on sale and I can’t think of any other brand that doesn’t. We also don’t distribute through third parties or have diffusion lines. You may fnd that restrictive, as we miss opportunities like liquidating old stock. But we won’t do that because we won’t say to a client what you bought yesterday is worth less today.
WE DON’T USE THE WORD CUSTOMER – THAT’S A TRANSACTIONAL
RELATIONSHIP. We refer to clients, as someone in the context who we will advise and advise over a period of time, and that’s an important difference. It’s to do with having the mindset that we’re about the relationship and not the
“PEOPLE COME BACK TO LOUIS VUITTON FOR THE SAME REASON. AND THAT IS THE QUALITY.”
transaction, and what that can bring us over a period of time.
YOU LEARN EQUALLY FROM MISTAKES AND SUCCESSES, THOUGH YOU HOPE TO MAKE LESS
OF THE FORMER. Success is about brand consistency – it starts with having a relevant and high-quality product, and then it’s that interaction with the client. I’ve learnt not to be complacent – it’s the biggest risk in life.
CHINA IS AN IMPORTANT MARKET, BUT THERE
ARE OTHERS, TOO. The US and Europe are doing well, though the business in general is geographically spread and some markets move quicker than others at certain times. And looking at LVMH results just for the frst quarter , the growth was 16 per cent – no one market drives that exclusively, though some are more important than others at a point in time, but that changes.
LV IS THE SECTOR LEADER. AND WE’RE DETERMINED TO STAY THERE BECAUSE OF INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY – AND BY TAKING
THE PAST WITH US. We’ll bring out a new product today, but there’ll be something about it you can take back 100 years – be it a colour, a design, a stitch, a metal part. That’s a real strength of the brand.
THE ONLY THING THAT’S THE SAME ON ANY GIVEN DAY IS THE COFFEE I PICK UP ON THE WAY TO THE OFFICE.
That’s what has kept me here this long – you meet a lot of different people and see a lot of interesting places and things. I like that.
WORK-LIFE BALANCE IS NOT THAT EASY, PARTICULARLY IF YOU TRAVEL.
But key to having any balance is having a great team – I can go anywhere, anytime, and be confdent the team can manage the vast majority of issues that arise. And then you’ve got to be disciplined – I try to keep weekends free.
I DON’T SWITCH OFF DEVICES, BUT I CAN SWITCH OFF MYSELF.
I just do. I don’t meditate, I have an onoff switch. And that switch was honed and fne-tuned in the US. I was in New York on September 11 and, well, I’ll often talk of perspective to the team here. n
PHILIP CORNE NAME ROLE CEO, LOUIS VUITTON OCEANIA