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.

GQ (Australia) - - GQ INC. -

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 [2015], 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

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